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Full text of "On being an artist : three plays and a libretto"



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



3 9999 06384 039 9 



UN BiiING 

AN 
ARTIST 



THREE PLAYS AND A LIBRETTO 




by 

Judith Weinshall Liberman 

Reflections on painting and writing 



ublic 



>"W 









BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



ON BEING AN ARTIST 



Also by the author: 

INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW (1955) 
THE BIRD'S LAST SONG (1976) 
HOLOCAUST WALL HANGINGS (2002) 
MY LIFE INTO ART (2007) 
LOOKING BACK: FOUR PLAYS (2010) 



ABOUT THE FRONT COVER: 

The central image combines the author's SELF PORTRAIT AS 
AN ARTIST III (1967) with an adaptation of Vincent van Gogh's 
SELF PORTRAIT AS A PAINTER (1887). In the five small 
artworks which are vertically arranged, the author merges her own 
likeness with that of Anne Frank. 




BEING AN ARTIST 



Three Plays and a Libretto 



Judi 




iUniverse, Inc. 

Bloomington 



ON BEING AN ARTIST 
Three Plays and a Libretto 

Copyright © 2012 by Judith Weinshall Liberman 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, 
electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information 
storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of 
brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 

No play, including a musical play and/or its lyrics, published in this book, nor any part 
thereof, may be staged or otherwise performed without the express written permission of 
the author. 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue 
in this book are either the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. 



iUniverse books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting: 

iUniverse 

1663 Liberty Drive 

Bloomington, IN 47403 

www.iuniverse.com 

1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677) 

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this 
book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed 
in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the 
publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them. 



ON THE COVER: Vincent van Gogh's image was adapted from his SELF PORTRAIT 
AS A PAINTER (1887), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation). 



ISBN: 978-1-4697-3225-1 (sc) 
ISBN: 978-1-4697-3226-8 (he) 
ISBN: 978-1-4697-3227-5 (e) 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012900065 



Printed in the United States of America 
iUniverse rev. date: 02/01/2012 



This book is dedicated 

to the memory of 

my husband, Prof. Robert Liberman 

my father, Dr. Abraham Weinshall 

my brother, Saul Weinshall 

to my family 

my son, Dr. David Liberman 

my daughter, Dr. Laura Liberman 

my grandchildren, Daniel, Nina, Cynthia and Deborah 

to Samuel Harps 

Artistic Director 

of the 

Shades Repertory Theater 

in Haverstraw, New York, U.S.A. 

who has had the vision 

to produce my dramatic works 

and 
to the Reali School 

in Haifa, Israel 

for encouraging my quest 

for knowledge 

for accomplishment 

and for excellence 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/onbeingartistthrOOIibe 



A NOTE FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT-LIBRETTIST 



This book is organized in the order in which I wrote SOUL MATE, 
VINCENT'S VISIT, JUDITH AND ANNE and the libretto for my 
musical play TO BE AN ARTIST. 

I wrote SOUL MATE in January 2011, while I was collaborating, 
as librettist-lyricist, with a composer on my first musical play, 
GOOD OLD ABRAHAM: THE MUSICAL. Although the 
characters in SOUL MATE are fictitious, and the materials in the 
play are made up, SOUL MATE was inspired by my interaction, as 
an aged aspiring lyricist, with a gifted young composer. 

VINCENT'S VISIT was written in the spring of 2011. As a visual 
artist, I had for many years wondered what would happen if I ever 
met Vincent van Gogh, my favorite artist. I wanted to ask him 
questions which had preoccupied me since my childhood about his 
art. I also wondered what he would say about my own visual art, 
whether he would understand it and be moved by it, especially by 
my art about war and the Holocaust. 

I imagined a play about my encounter with Vincent van Gogh but 
never got around to writing one until a film producer mentioned 
that he would like to make a documentary film about my life, 
especially about my art, and it occurred to me that it would be 
interesting and instructive to show my art within the framework 
of an encounter between van Gogh and me, so that displaying my 
artwork and discussing it would naturally flow from the dialogue 
between van Gogh and myself. 

The format itself- a play which is part of a documentary - required 
a strict limitation on the number, and the type, of artworks that 
would be included; there was no practical way the upward of a 
thousand artworks I had created could be included. Since I have 
always worked in series, I chose works from some of my more 
important series, such as my SELF PORTRAITS series, the 



Vll 



A NOTE FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT-LIBRETTIST 

MYSTIC INTERIORS series, the MOTHER AND CHILD series, 
the VIETNAM series, and my three series about the Holocaust, 
i.e., the HOLOCAUST PAINTINGS, the HOLOCAUST WALL 
HANGINGS and the SELF PORTRAITS OF A HOLOCAUST 
ARTIST series. I also included works from some of my more 
"decorative" series, such as my BOATS series and the FLOWERS 
series, which I had created as an escape from my preoccupation 
with the human condition. 

JUDITH AND ANNE was written in the summer of 2011. 
It was inspired by my autobiography, MY LIFE INTO ART, 
which was published in 2007. While the book covers decades of 
my life and illuminates my long and difficult path to becoming 
an artist, JUDITH AND ANNE focuses on a single aspect of 
my life, namely, my relationship, as an artist, with Anne Frank, 
the young Holocaust victim whose story of her life in hiding 
during World War II is now legend. I devoted forty years of my 
life to creating visual art. Beginning in the mid-1980s, after 
spending a quarter century creating art, I focused my artistic 
vision mainly on the Holocaust. In each of my three series on 
the subject, I based several artworks on Anne Frank. Creating 
art about the Holocaust served to intensify my interest in Anne 
and made me wish that I could meet her and speak to her. 
Although in this play I changed some of the events depicted 
and their time frame, JUDITH AND ANNE is true to the 
essence of my story. This is the story of two people, Judith and 
Anne, whom fate first held apart and then thrust together in an 
unforeseeable and magical way. 

I wrote the libretto for TO BE AN ARTIST in the fall of 2011. 
The musical was based on two of my plays, VINCENT'S 
VISIT and JUDITH AND ANNE. Since both plays were semi- 
autobiographical and focused on my visual art, creating a single 
theatrical work integrating elements from each seemed reasonable. 
My recent work on my first musical, GOOD OLD ABRAHAM, 
whetted my appetite for this theatrical genre. While writing the 
lyrics for my new musical, I decided to adapt a lyric from one of 



Vlll 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



my plays, SOUL MATE, for TO BE AN ARTIST. I collaborated 
on the music for TO BE AN ARTIST with the same gifted young 
composer I had collaborated with on my previous musical. 

In order to help the reader better understand some of my artworks 
discussed in the plays and libretto, I decided to include, at the end 
of the book, 25 plates, which are black-and-white reproductions 
of some of my artworks. Although black-and-white reproductions, 
especially when rendered in such a reduced size, cannot do justice 
to the original artworks, it is my hope that they will clarify for the 
reader some of the discussion in my dramatic works and hopefully 
also whet the reader's appetite for seeing my artworks on the 
internet and in person. 



Judith Weinshall Liberman 



IX 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



SOUL MATE: A One-Act Play 1 

VINCENT'S VISIT: A One- Act Play 39 

JUDITH AND ANNE: A One-Act Play 71 

TO BE AN ARTIST: Libretto for a Musical in Two Acts 95 

Lyrics for TO BE AN ARTIST 181 

PLATES 231 



XI 



SOUL MATE 

A One-Act Play 



CHARACTERS 



RUTH 



a woman in her eighties, a widow, an artist, writer, 
playwright and aspiring librettist-lyricist 



BARZ 



a young composer (heard but not seen) 



TIME AND PLACE 



The action takes place in early twenty-first century America in a 
home office equipped with access to cyberspace. 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



The curtain rises to reveal a 
small, well-lit home office. The 
room is dominated by a large 
desk. The desk is cluttered with 
books, manuscripts and printed 
loose sheets of paper which are 
scattered about. On the desk is 
a computer screen, a keyboard 
with an attached mouse and a 
speaker. Nearby on the desk is a 
printer. There is a pen stand near 
the keyboard. A leather executive 
chair stands at the desk facing the 
computer screen. Next to the desk, 
against the wall, is a bookcase, 
overflowing with books. Hanging 
on the wall are framed old family 
photographs. 

RUTH enters the room carrying a 
bag of groceries. She is wearing 
a coat and a hat. She drops the 
bag on the floor at the door and 
rushes to the computer screen. 
As she seats herself on the chair, 
she quickly clicks on the computer 
screen and searches it intently. 



RUTH 

(Looking through her incoming e-mail.) 
No. No. No. No. Oh, here it is. Barz. 



RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen and looks intently at the 
window which opens up. She absent- 
mindedly removes her hat and 
places it next to her on the desk 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH. 

(Reading aloud from the computer screen.) 
"Hi. I received your e-mail and attachment. Since you hired me to 
compose music for the musical you are planning, and since I am 
therefore your employee, I am willing to try to compose music 
for the so-called lyric you e-mailed me. But, frankly, I don't think 
it's a lyric at all, just prose divided into short lines. I can tell from 
comparing it to the play you previously sent me, that you simply 
lifted the spoken text out of your play and sent it as is, except that 
you divided the lines into short segments. Prose is prose even if 
its lines are divided into segments. As I said, if you want me to go 
ahead and compose the music for it, I will try to do so. Otherwise, 
you might want to rewrite this piece of prose into a true lyric. 
Please let me know what you decide. Barz" 

RUTH leans back in her chair 

RUTH 

Well! Not at all what I expected to hear! I thought he'd love that 
lyric. I know it's the first one I've ever written, but I was quite 
pleased with it and proud of myself for having written it. {Pause) 
It's getting warm in here. 

Ruth gets up and removes her coat. 
She places it on the back of her 
chair and sits down again. 

RUTH. 

(Rereading the screen silently.) 
What's wrong with my lyric? He doesn't say except that according 
to him it's not a lyric at all. How dare he?! Such a young man, a 
college kid, too, telling me what is and isn't a lyric! Who does 
he think he is? As an octogenarian, I'm old enough to be his 
grandmother or even his great- grandmother. And I've earned 
several degrees and had books published, one of them a book 
of plays. And the play on which this musical is based has been 
successfully staged, too. So there's nothing wrong with my writing. 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Nothing! I don't know what's wrong with today's young people. 
They think they know everything. Maybe I should have chosen 
another composer, someone older and more mature, less self- 
assured and outspoken. I had a choice of composers who were 
eager to compose music for my musical. All for pay, of course. 
That goes without saying. Who in today's world does anything for 
free, for the sheer joy of creating, for the satisfaction of making 
a contribution to society? Types like me seem to be getting rarer 
and rarer. And here comes this young college kid and he doesn't 
seem to appreciate my contribution. What is the world coming 
to, anyway? I wish I hadn't paid him anything in advance. Then I 
could tell him to go you know where. I thought that as a youngster, 
he'd be more in tune with the current music scene than someone 
who is older and rooted only in classical and other traditional forms 
of music. So I thought this kid could write music that is more 
contemporary and appeals to a wider audience, which is my main 
reason for developing my play into a musical in the first place. But, 
if he rejects my lyrics, we won't get anything done, so there goes 
my musical. 

RUTH gets up and searches the 
printed loose sheets of paper on 
her desk. She picks up a printed 
sheet and sits down to read it. 

RUTH 

(After reading it silently.) 
What in the world is wrong with my lyric? I love it. I think it's 
great. It says exactly what I meant it to say. What's wrong if I 
took this dialogue right out of my play and put it in the libretto 
and marked it as a duet to be sung? In the play, it's a conversation 
between two people, so naturally I made it into a duet in my 
musical. If it worked in the play as dialogue, why wouldn't it work 
as a song as long as the music is suitable? So why can't he just 
compose the music for it and, voila, we'll have a song? Not just a 
song but a duet, with two people singing to each other. I love duets. 
I'm really beginning to think I chose the wrong composer. Maybe 



SOUL MATE 

he's simply too young to understand. I wouldn't have sent it to him 
as my first lyric if I didn't think it was great. Of course I wanted 
to put my best foot forward so he'd be impressed. I wonder why he 
didn't like it. I'm going to ask him directly. That will put him in his 
place. 

RUTH puts down the printed sheet 
of paper and turns to her computer 
screen. She clicks on it and begins 
typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — Thank you for your e-mail — in which you 
acknowledged — receipt of my first lyric. — While I was glad — 
to hear that you have — received it — and indeed read it, — I was 
— disappointed to hear — that you didn't approve of it. — I am 
wondering — what you think is — wrong with it. — Specifically, I 
wonder — what you think makes it — a piece of prose — and not 
a lyric. — I would appreciate — having you explain — what you 
mean. — Please let me hear — from you soon. Ruth" 

RUTH stops typing for a moment 
and rereads her e-mail silently, 
then resumes typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"P.S. — Of course — I wouldn't dream — of asking you — to 
compose music — for something — you seem to have — such a 
strong — objection to." 

RUTH rereads her e-mail silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to. send the letter. She picks up 
the printed sheet of paper again 
and rereads it silently. She begins 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Flays and a Libretto 

humming a tune, then places the 
sheet of paper next to her on the 
desk and clicks on the screen 
again. A virtual piano appears 
on the screen and she clicks on 
various piano keys, humming her 
tune while playing it on the virtual 
piano. She adjusts her speaker 
while repeating the same motif 
several times as she hums. 

RUTH 

Why wouldn't this tune be suitable for my lyric? Maybe I should 
send the tune to him so he'll get the point that my lyric is quite 
sing-able. Luckily, I still remember how to write musical notes. I 
guess all those years of learning how to play the piano when I was 
a kid and, later on, of watching Ira playing, were not in vain. 

The computer beeps, signaling 
incoming e-mail. Ruth closes the 
virtual piano window and opens 
her e-mail window. She clicks on 
the computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Looking at the screen.) 
Here it is. His answer. (Reading aloud from the screen.) "Hi. I 
don't even know where to begin to tell you why the so-called lyric 
you sent me is not a lyric. Maybe this will make it somewhat clear 
to you: If you want to write a lyric for a musical, first you have to 
understand what a lyric in a musical is meant to accomplish. Why 
is this lyric in the musical as a lyric rather than as dialogue in the 
first place? Well, a lyric is not meant to just convey information. 
That is basically the function of the dialogue part of a libretto. So, 
if a lyric is not there to just give information, ask yourself, 'What is 
a lyric's function?' And the answer is: to express emotion. Whose 
emotion? Naturally, that of the character who is singing. And why 



SOUL MATE 

do we want a character to express his or her emotions in a musical? 
Because that is the way we get to know the character. It's through 
a lyric - actually, a lyric set to music and sung by the human voice, 
which means a song - that a character in a musical reveals his or 
her emotions and thereby his or her inner being. The easiest way 
to understand this is to ask yourself, 'Why would a character in 
a musical suddenly burst into song?' The answer is: It is because 
the character has realized something important that he or she feels 
strongly about, and it is through song that the character expresses 
his or her strong emotions about it. To reiterate: The characters 
express their emotions in songs and that's how we get to know 
them. It's very difficult to express emotion in a duet, although it 
can be done, so I suggest you begin by writing a lyric that is a solo. 
Find a character in your play who feels strongly about something 
and write a lyric expressing that emotion. I hope this helps. Barz" 

RUTH picks up the printed sheet of 
paper. 

RUTH 

(Silently rereading her lyric.) 
Well. Maybe he has a point. I hate to admit it, but now I can see 
that in my lyric, the two characters are discussing something that 
happened. It's true. Their dialogue is all factual. No emotion. No 
revelation of character, I guess. So maybe having this dialogue 
sung isn't important because it can just as well be spoken, as it was 
in the original play. I'll just have to forget this lyric. I don't really 
mind. At least I've learned something. I'll have to write another 
lyric and send it to him. I'll make it very emotional so he'll know 
I got the point. The last thing I want is for him to think I'm stupid 
and then he'll lose respect not only for me but for the project. 

RUTH gets up and looks through 
the pile of manuscripts on her desk. 
Picking one out, she sits down and 
leafs through it. 



10 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RUTH 

Let me see, now. I marked some spots where I was going to convert 
the dialogue into a lyric. Here is one. (RUTH studies a manuscript 
page intently, then leans hack, lost in thought. She straightens up 
in her chair and studies the same page again.) No. I don't think 
he'll like this one. He'll tell me there's not enough emotion and so 
there's no reason for the character to burst into song here. The last 
thing I want is for him to think I didn't get his point. I have to find 
something else. (RUTH leafs through the manuscript, then leans 
back in her chair again, lost in thought.) Oh, I know! I'll start with 
that one. (RUTH sits up and turns the pages of her manuscript until 
she finds the spot. She reads the manuscript page intently.) Yes, 
this is a good one. She's lost her husband and she misses him. She's 
lonely, and loneliness is certainly something to emote about. And 
who better than me to write about loneliness? I know a lot about it 
so I can certainly express that feeling. 

RUTH puts the open manuscript 
beside her on the desk and clicks 
on the computer screen, then 
begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Let me tell you — What it's like — To be a widow — Left — 
Alone — An old woman — Who has lived — Far beyond — Her 
beloved — I'm like a bird — That has lost — Its mate — A bird 

— That still sings — Though its mate — Is now gone — The bird's 
song — Is a sad one — But it is beautiful — Nonetheless — Even as 
winter — Threatens — To bury — Its song — In the wind — In the 

— Howling wind — Yet the bird — Still sings — Though its mate 

— Cannot hear — Its beautiful — Song — Now no-one — Can hear 

— I'm an old woman — With songs — Still to sing — But — No 
soul mate — To hear them. — My soul mate — - Is gone — Nobody 
knows — How lonely — It feels — To be a widow — And now — 
In old age — To have — No soul mate — To commune with — No 
soul mate — To hear — My song — Or my silence." 

11 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH studies the screen, reading 
her writing silently, then clicks on 
the screen and begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — Attached is a lyric — I have just written.— I 
wrote it after reading — your e-mail about — what was wrong 

— with the first lyric I sent you — which, as you probably recall, 

— you thought was not a lyric — at all — but rather a piece of 
prose — divided into short segments. — This time — unlike last 
time — the lyric is a solo — and as you can see — it expresses 

— the emotions — of the main character — in my play — who 
will be singing it — in the musical. — I hope — you find this lyric 

— satisfactory, — actually, good enough — for you to compose 

— music for. — I am sure it will be — very sad music, — to go 
with the — emotions expressed — but, as far as I am concerned, 

— there is nothing wrong — with a sad song, — is there? — I will 
be waiting — eagerly — to hear from you — and receive your first 
composition, — your first voice recording, — of a song, — which I 
hope — will be very soon. Ruth" 

RUTH rereads the letter silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to attach her lyric and again to 
send the letter. She gets up and 
walks to the wall hung with framed 
family photographs. She takes 
down a photograph showing a 
young couple. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she holds the photograph in her hands.) 
Gosh! Hard to believe we were ever that young! I still remember 
when this photo was taken. It was shortly after we got married. 
How many years has it been? (Pause.) Well, many, many years. 
My Ira. He was so handsome! Like a movie star. And so brilliant. 



12 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

A wonderful pianist, and a composer, too, although he had another 
profession. But the best thing about him was his soul. He was so 
understanding. From the moment we met, he could read what was 
on my mind. I didn't really have to even speak. He always knew 
what I was thinking and what I was feeling and the strangest thing 
was that we thought so alike even though we grew up continents 
apart. But it was true. We had this connection. We were soul mates. 

The computer beeps, signaling 
incoming e-mail RUTH quickly 
hangs up the photograph in its 
spot, sits down and searches the 
computer screen. 

RUTH 

Here it is. Barz (She clicks on the screen and reads aloud.) "Hi. I 
hereby confirm receipt of your e-mail and attachment. Although 
what you sent me was actually quite emotional and moving, again, 
it was not a lyric. What you sent me, this time, is more akin to 
poetry, of the stream-of-consciousness free-verse type. Again I 
want you to know that since I am your employee, I am willing 
to try to compose music for this non-lyric if you want me to. 
Otherwise you might want to rewrite your poem into a true lyric 
and send it to me for my composition. Please let me know what you 
decide. Barz" 

RUTH rereads the letter silently, 
then gets up and paces the floor. 
She picks up the hat off the desk 
and the coat off the back of 
her chair, picks up her bag of 
groceries at the door, and walks 
out. She returns a short while later 
without the hat, coat or bag, and 
sits down in her chair. She rereads 
the writing on her computer 
screen. 



13 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH 

What in the world was wrong this time? I poured my heart out in 
that lyric. If it wasn't emotional, like he said a lyric should be, I 
don't know what it was. I'm beginning to wonder if this guy will 
ever be satisfied. I have no idea why this was not a lyric, since 
it expressed the character's emotions so clearly. I wish he'd stop 
giving me the run-around. Maybe he's just finding excuses for not 
doing the work I hired him to do. I'm going to ask him to tell me 
precisely what was wrong with my lyric this time. I'm getting tired 
of his excuses for not doing any composing. I'll put him on the 
spot. 

RUTH rereads BARZ'S letter 
silently, then clicks on the 
computer screen and begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — I was disappointed — at your negative reaction 

— to my second lyric. — Not only disappointed — but, frankly, 
shocked. — I did exactly — as you told me to do — and I poured 
my heart out — in this emotional — statement — by the main 
character — in my play. — Actually, — I thought I did a great 
job — expressing the loneliness — of an old woman, — whose 
husband — has passed away — and who feels all alone — because 
she no longer — has a soul mate. — I would appreciate — hearing 
from you — exactly what was wrong — with my lyric — because 
unless I know — exactly what — in your opinion — I did wrong, 

— there is no way — I can do better — in the future. — Please let 
me hear — from you soon — as I am eager — to get the project — 
under way. Ruth" 

RUTH rereads her letter silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to send it. She clicks again to have 
her second lyric reappear on the 
screen. 



14 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RUTH 

(Reading her lyric aloud, fluently and with emotion.) 
"Let me tell you 
What it's like 
To be a widow 
Left 
Alone 

An old woman 
Who has lived 
Far beyond 
Her beloved 
I'm like a bird 
That has lost 
Its mate 
A bird 

That still sings 
Though its mate 
Is now gone 
The bird's song 
Is a sad one 
But it is 
Beautiful 
Even as winter 
Threatens 
To bury 
Its song 
In the wind 
In the 

Howling wind 
Yet the bird 
Still sings 
Though its mate 
Cannot hear 
Its beautiful 
Song 

Now no-one 
Can hear 



15 



SOUL MATE 



I'm an old woman 

With songs 

Stiil to sing 

But 

No soul mate 

To hear them 

My soul mate 

Is gone 

Nobody knows 

How lonely 

It feels 

To be a widow 

And now 

In old age 

To have 

No soul mate 

To commune with 

No soul mate 

To hear 

My song 

Or my silence." 



RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen. 



RUTH 

I think I'll print it out. 



The printer makes various sounds 
as it prints out RUTH'S piece. Ruth 
reaches for the printed page. 



RUTH 

(Reading the printout silently.) 
Excellent. Just excellent. 



16 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RUTH begins humming a tune 
as she keeps on clicking on the 
computer screen. A virtual piano 
appears on the screen and she 
clicks on various piano keys while 
humming a tune. She adjusts the 
speaker while playing her tune on 
the virtual piano. She repeats the 
same motif several times as she 
hums. 

The computer beeps, signaling 
incoming e-mail. RUTH quickly 
clicks on the screen. The virtual 
piano disappears and she clicks 
again and searches the screen for 
incoming e-mail. 

RUTH 

(Studying the screen.) 
Here it is. From Barz. (She clicks on the screen and reads aloud.) 
"Hi. I am sorry if anything I said about your last piece hurt your 
feelings. Actually, I found your poem quite moving, but it was just 
not a lyric. I hope you don't take what I say personally but simply 
as my way of helping make the project successful. Now, as I said, 
your last piece was more akin to a poem than to a lyric. If we 
compare a poem and a lyric, there are definitely some similarities. 
For example, in both of them, we have a compelling theme, 
effective imagery and emotional impact. But while poems and 
lyrics do have something in common, they also differ substantially. 
The differences flow mainly from the fact that while poems are 
meant to be read, usually from the printed page, lyrics are meant to 
be heard when they are set to music and sung by the human voice. 
That means that while one can go back and reread a poem again 
and again, in a lyric the ideas and words have to be simple and easy 
to understand because the listener has no way of going back once 
the lyric is sung. A successful lyric therefore has to connect with 

17 



SOUL MATE 

the listener immediately, and not only with the brain but with the 
human ear. And that is crucial in a lyric. It means that a lyric has 
to work well with the rhythmic pattern and the melodic structure 
of music. I hope this is not too much for you to digest all at once 
and that it is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. 
Barz" 

RUTH leans back in her seat and 
closes her eyes. She takes a deep 
breath. After a moment or two, she 
sits up in her seat and reaches for 
her printed poem on the desk, then 
reads the printed sheet silently. 

RUTH 

I really don't know what the world is coming to. I'm beginning 
to wonder if this is all a scam. I've heard about little old ladies 
being taken to the cleaners by smooth-talking younger men. Now, 
what did I get myself into? I wish Ira was still here. He could have 
composed some great music for my musical and I would have 
avoided all this. 

She puts down her sheet of paper, 
clicks on the computer screen and 
begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — Thank you for your — lucid explanation — of 
why my second piece — was not a lyric — but, rather, — more 
akin to poetry. — So now I have sent you — one piece that was 

— according to you — not a lyric — because it was prose — and 
another piece — that — according to you — was not a lyric — 
because it was — a poem. — Well, — you have explained — quite 
clearly — what a lyric is not. — According to you — it is not prose 

— and it is not poetry. — I would be grateful — if you now tell 
me — not what a lyric is not — but rather what — in your opinion 

18 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

— a lyric is. — As you know, — I am eager to get started — on 
the project — as I am not — getting any younger. — So whatever 
guidelines — you can give me — about what you think — a lyric 
is — will be deeply appreciated. — Please let me hear — from you 
soon. Ruth" 

RUTH rereads her letter silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to send it. She then leans back in 
her seat and closes her eyes. 

RUTH 

I'm wondering if this kid is legit. Maybe it was a mistake to choose 
someone I found on the internet. I just Googled "composer + 
musical" and his name popped up. There were other composers I 
could have chosen, and actually considered, from that Google list, 
but something told me to choose this guy. I've always trusted my 
intuition and have found it reliable. Besides, the article said this kid 
has already won several awards for his compositions and of course 
I wanted to make my musical as good as possible, so I chose him. 
Actually, I invited him over for lunch when he was on his winter 
break from college, before I hired him, just to look him over. He 
seemed like a nice kid, rather good looking, tall and slim, and 
neatly dressed, and he seemed to know a lot about musicals. I guess 
he has acted in musicals a lot, and has studied all about musicals in 
college. He's a music major. 

The computer beeps, signaling 
incoming e-mail. RUTH opens her 
eyes and sits up, She searches the 
screen and clicks on it. 

RUTH 

Okay. Here it is. (Reading aloud from the screen.) "Hi. I got your 
letter asking me to explain not what a lyric is not but rather what it 
is. That's fair. And, of course, it's an important question, because 
there is no way a musical can be successful unless the lyrics are 

19 



SOUL MATE 

well crafted. The key to good lyric craftsmanship is construction, 
so I will tell you about the fundamentals of proper lyric 
construction. The most acceptable lyric construction in modern 
musicals is verse, then chorus, then verse, then chorus, then a 
bridge and, finally, a chorus. The reason why this lyric structure 
is popular and successful is because it provides the listener with 
enough variety through the verses and the bridge, and enough 
familiarity through the chorus, to keep the audience listening. 
Now, let me explain what the function of each of these parts of a 
lyric - the verses, the chorus, and the bridge - is. We start with the 
verses. A verse may consist of one or more related stanzas, or sub- 
verses. The verses in a lyric give us information about the situation 
and the emotions involved. The verses are different from each 
other in specific contents, but not in function. Now, the function 
of the chorus is to make the main point of the lyric, to drive home 
the moral of the story, so to speak. The chorus is really the heart 
of the lyric, and you may find it easiest to start each of your lyrics 
with the chorus, so you can clarify in your own mind what your 
lyric is about. A lyric should have one basic point. Now, the bridge 
provides a break from the repetition of the chorus, and from the 
exposition of the verses, and is a revealing moment in the lyric, 
providing insight. I know this is a lot to digest all at once but if you 
understand the structure, you will be able to write excellent lyrics. 
Please let me know if you have any questions. Barz" 

RUTH leans back in her seat and 
closes her eyes. She takes a deep 
breath. After a moment or two, she 
sits up in her seat. She reads the 
screen silently. 

RUTH 

Well, I didn't realize you have to follow strict rules to write good 
lyrics. I'm not sure I like this. I've never exactly followed rules 
in my creative work before. I painted and wrote books and plays 
and I don't recall following strict rules in any of these. After all, 
the whole idea of being creative is, well, being creative, which to 

20 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

me means not being confined by rules. This business of verses 
and choruses and bridges sounds awfully confining. I wonder who 
made up these rules, anyway. The creativity police, I assume. I'd 
better thank him, though. He must have spent a great deal of time 
on that letter. He certainly tried to explain things, so maybe he 
means well. Yes, I think he deserves a thank-you letter no matter 
what I decide to do. 

RUTH clicks on her computer 
screen. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — Thank you — very much — for sending me — 
your guidelines — for writing good lyrics. — I guess I was not 
aware — that there are rules — about such things, — any more 

— than there are rules — about — making love. — I was under 
the impression — that these things — just come naturally. — I 
am sure — you will understand — that I have never — actually 
written lyrics — before — and that my interest — in creating a 
musical — was prompted by — nothing more than — my desire 

— to have my play — which was recently — staged as a drama 

— reach a broader — audience — than it could — as a play. — I 
don't really know — whether a desire to reach — a broad audience 

— is a sufficiently valid reason — for writing a musical, — but 
since I am committed — emotionally and otherwise — to doing so, 

— I think I may try — to follow your — guidelines, — for which 
I thank you. — Let me think — about all this — for a while — as 
you have caught me — by surprise — and I need to absorb — what 
you said. — I hope you will be — patient with me. — At my age 

— new ways of thinking — are not as easy to absorb — as they 
once were. — I will keep you posted. — Meanwhile, — thanks for 
your help. Ruth" 

RUTH rereads her e-mail silently, 
then resumes typing. 



21 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"PS. — Since — I have never — been able — to resist — a 
creative challenge, — chances are — that I will begin working — 
on a lyric structured — as per your guidelines — very soon. — I 
will send my lyric — to you — as soon as it is done." 

RUTH rereads her letter silently, 
then clicks on her computer screen 
to send the letter. She leans back in 
her seat. 

RUTH 

Well, I think I'll try it. What do I have to lose? As I said, it's a 
challenge. Now, let me see. First a verse and then a chorus and 
another verse and a chorus and then a bridge and a chorus. I don't 
know if I am capable of doing it but I'll certainly give it the old 
try. I think I'll start with my poem, since it expresses emotion, as 
he earlier said a lyric must do, and I'll see if I can structure it as a 
lyric the way he says. 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen until her poem appears. 

RUTH 

(Reading her poem aloud, with passion.) 
"Let me tell you 
What it's like 
To be a widow 
Left 
Alone 

An old woman 
Who has lived 
Far beyond 
Her beloved 
I'm like a bird 
That has lost 



22 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



Its mate 

A bird 

That still sings 

Though its mate 

Is now gone 

The bird's song 

Is a sad one 

But it is 

Beautiful 

Even as winter 

Threatens 

To bury 

Its song 

In the wind 

In the 

Howling wind 

Yet the bird 

Still sings 

Though its mate 

Cannot hear 

Its beautiful 

Song 

Now no -one 

Can hear 

I'm an old woman 

With songs 

Still to sing 

But 

No soul mate 

To hear them 

My soul mate 

Is gone 

Nobody knows 

How lonely 

It feels 

To be a widow 

And now 



23 



SOUL MATE 

In old age 

To have 

No soul mate 

To commune with 

No soul mate 

To hear 

My song 

Or my silence." 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen. 

RUTH 

I think I'll start with the chorus, like he suggested. Now, he said 
that the chorus is supposed to make the main point of the lyric. So 
the question is: What is the main point of this lyric? Let's see. (She 
reads the poem silently.) I think it's that the tragedy of widowhood 
is the loss of a soul mate. Now, how do I write a chorus about that? 
Let me try. 

RUTH begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types) 
"Your soul mate's gone" — yes, that's a good way to start — 
because this lyric is about losing your soul mate — "And he alone" 

— yes, that's the whole point — that you've lost your mate — and 
only he — "Could hear your silence" — now what rhymes with 
"alone"? — "phone"? "zone"? "drone"? — how about "known"? 

— "And would have known." — That rhymes. And it's not only a 
rhyme, but meaningful. I like rhymes that are meaningful. 

RUTH leans back in her chair and 
closes her eyes. She then sits up 
and studies the computer screen 
intently. 



24 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RUTH 

(Reads aloud, with passion.) 
"Your soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear your silence 
And would have known." 

RUTH leans back in her chair and 
smiles. She then sits up and silently 
rereads what she has written. 

RUTH 

Okay, I think that's not bad. It's emotional and it makes the main 
point. Now I have to write the verses and the bridge. Let me see 
what he says about verses. 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen. 

RUTH 

(Looking at the screen.) 
Here is his letter. It says (Reading aloud.) "Now, let me explain 
what the function of each of these parts of a lyric - the verses, the 
chorus, and the bridge - is. We start with the verses. A verse may 
consist of one or more related stanzas, or sub-verses. The verses 
in a lyric give us information about the situation and the emotions 
involved." Okay. Let me try to write some verses. According to 
him, verses are supposed to give information about the situation 
and the emotions involved. Okay. Now, what's the situation in this 
lyric? The situation is widowhood. And what are the emotions? 
The emotions are loneliness and longing. Now let me see how I can 
do this. 

RUTH leans back in her chair and 
closes her eyes. She then sits up, 
clicks on the computer screen and 
begins typing. 

25 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Let me tell you — What I have known" — that's a good opening, 
since it tells it from the point of view of a widow, who should know 
what this is about. — "As an old widow — Left alone" — Now 
this could make a sub-verse. Okay. Next sub-verse. — "When you 
are old — And your mate's gone" — yes, that's the point, that he is 
gone — "The saddest part — When you're alone" — Well, "gone" 
and "alone" don't quite rhyme, but almost, and the main thing is, 
it's meaningful. It needs a follow-up, though — "Is not that you — 
Cannot now speak" — that's pretty good because that tells it like it 
is — "To your dear mate — When life is bleak" — That's not bad 

— I like the rhyme, — and it's not at the expense of meaning, — 
which is the most important thing, of course — I hate rhymes that 
make no sense — "But rather that — Your silence now" — well, 
let's see, — what rhymes with "now"? — "bow"? "cow"? "plough"? 

— No, that's not it — it wouldn't make any sense — what about 
"how"? — that's it — "No-one can hear — No-one knows how." 

— That sounds good and meaningful, too. — Now here I'll insert 
the chorus — because these sub-verses make sense as a unit, as a 
complete verse. I think maybe I'll speak in terms of "me" rather than 
"you" in the next verse — "I've lived way past — My golden years" 

— reminds me of Golden Girls — I sure loved that show — "My 
heart is filled — With silent tears" — Not bad, if I say so myself. — 
"Now that I'm old — And my mate's gone" — okay, what next? — 
continue in the first person — "The saddest part — When I'm alone" 

— pretty good, although "gone" and "alone" rhyme better when 
written than in their sound — ah, well — at least the verse says what 
I want it to say — Next sub-verse — "It's not that I — Cannot now 
speak — To my dear mate — When life is bleak" — I like it in the 
first person - it makes it more intimate and less preachy. — Next 
sub-verse — "But rather that — My silence now — No-one can hear 

— No-one knows how." — I think here I'll repeat the chorus. — 
After the chorus will come the bridge. Now, what did he say about 
the bridge? (Clicks on her screen in search ofBarz's letter.) Here is 
what he said, "A bridge provides a break from the repetition of the 
chorus, and the exposition of the verses, and is a revealing moment 

26 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

in the lyric, providing insight." Well, let me see, I will make the 
bridge stand out: "Some day — I'll join him — Where we're free" 

— hmm, that's not bad — "And once again — We'll soul mates be ." 

— I like that. I think I'll continue having the bridge speak about 
the future, not like the verses, which talked about the past and the 
present. Okay. Here goes the next part. — "I will be quiet — Never 
speak — Though times become — So very bleak" — not bad, if I 
say so myself— "I will stay mum" — that's a good term for "silent" 

— spelled "m" then "u" then "m" — not like a mother "mom" — 
"My silence, though" — now what rhymes with "though"? — oh, 
yes — "know" — "My mate will hear — And he will know." I think 
I'll put the chorus here again. So I've got a verse and a chorus and 
another verse and a chorus, and, finally, a bridge and a chorus, just 
like he said. Now let me see the whole lyric. 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
I'll call this lyric "SOUL MATE." 

RUTH smiles as she views the 
screen and prepares to read her 
lyric aloud. 

RUTH 

(Reading aloud from the screen, fluently and with emotion.) 
"SOUL MATE 

Let me tell you 
What I have known 
As an old widow 
Left alone. 

When you are old 
And your mate's gone 

27 



SOUL MATE 



The saddest part 
When you're alone 

Is not that you 
Cannot now speak 
To your dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
Your silence now 
No -one can hear, 
No -one knows how. 



Your soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear your silence 
And would have known. 



I've lived way past 
My golden years. 
My heart is filled 
With silent tears. 

Now that I'm old 
And my mate's gone 
The saddest part 
When I'm alone 

Is not that I 
Cannot now speak 
To my dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
My silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No-one knows how. 



28 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 



Some day I'll join him 
Where we're free 
And once again 
We'll soul mates be. 

I will be quiet, 
Never speak, 
Though times become 
So very bleak. 

I will stay mum. 
My silence, though, 
My mate will hear 
And he will know. 

My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known." 

RUTH leans back in her seat, 
smiling. She closes her eyes, 
then opens them and straightens 
up in her seat. She clicks on the 
computer screen and begins typing. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — I have completely revised — my second lyric — 
in accordance — with the guidelines — which you generously 
— provided to me. — The revised version — is called — SOUL 
MATE — and I am attaching — it hereto. — I hope you are 

29 



SOUL MATE 

pleased — with it — and feel that — I have finally written — a 
lyric worthy — of its name — and of your composition. — I am 
looking forward — to hearing from you soon. — Thanks for all 
your help! — Ruth" 

RUTH rereads her letter silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to attach her lyric and then again 
to send the letter. She gets up and 
walks to the wall of photographs, 
where she takes down a 
photograph of a middle-aged 
couple. Holding the photograph in 
her hands, she speaks to it. 

RUTH 

My dear, dear Ira. I know you would have understood what I 
wanted to say in that lyric. You were always my soul mate and 
knew what I was thinking even before I uttered a word. I wonder 
if you're still there to hear what's on my mind. Because that's what 
being soul mates is all about. Hearing the words in the silence. 
Hearing the silence. . . 

The computer beeps, signaling 
incoming e-mail. RUTH hesitates 
a moment, then re-hangs the 
photograph and rushes to her seat. 
Sitting down, she clicks on the 
computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she looks at the screen.) 
Here it is. From Barz. (Reading aloud.) "Hi, Ruth. Thank you 
very much for the lyric you sent me. Although I wish that when 
you converted your poem into a lyric, you had utilized some 
of that compelling imagery of the singing bird which you used 
in your original piece, I feel that your lyric is terrific as is, and 

30 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

I have already begun to think about a composition that will 
express what your lyric is intended to convey. I will send you my 
voice recording, via an e-mail attachment, as soon as I have a 
preliminary draft of the music ready. Meanwhile, you might take 
some time to look through your play to find other spots where a 
lyric would be appropriate. Take your time to go carefully through 
the script and consider thoughtfully where it would be appropriate 
to have the lyrics, since time spent now deciding that will save 
us a lot of time as we proceed. With all this said, I feel we are 
finally on our way to creating a great musical. Barz. P.S. Oh, yes, 
congratulations on writing a very moving lyric! P.P.S. I hope you 
don't mind if I address you by your first name." 

RUTH 

Well! Finally! He liked something I did! I can't believe it! After 
all this time! But maybe it was worth the frustration and the wait. 
Actually, come to think of it, I've learned a great deal from him, so 
maybe I chose the right composer after all. Actually, he has been 
very patient with me, and quite articulate. I think I'd better write to 
him and thank him. 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — I can't begin to tell you — how thrilled I was 

— to hear — that you liked — my lyric — titled SOUL MATE. 

— Hearing that — from someone who is so — knowledgeable — 
about the field — of musicals — was in itself— how shall I put it? 

— music to my ears. — I will be looking — forward — eagerly 

— to hearing — the voice recording — of you singing — your 
composition — for my first lyric. — Meanwhile, I will do — as 
you suggested — and go through my play — carefully — to find 
other — spots — where lyrics — are appropriate. — Thanks again 
for — your patience and — for your guidance. Ruth. P.S. I am 
delighted to have you address me by my first name." 

31 



SOUL MATE 

RUTH silently rereads her letter, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to send it. She gets up and walks 
to the wall of photographs, where 
she takes down a photograph of an 
older man. 

RUTH 

(Speaking to the photograph.) 
I hope you know what I'm thinking right now and how happy I'm 
feeling. You were always my soul mate and I hope you still are, 
although sometimes I wonder if that silent communication between 
two people survives the death of one of them. I certainly hope it 
does, because having a soul mate is crucial to all of us. Without it, 
life would be quite unbearable. 

RUTH kisses the photograph, then 
hangs it back on the wall. She 
walks to her desk, picks up the 
manuscript and sits down in her 
seat. Leaning back, she begins 
reading the manuscript. 

RUTH 

(Studying a page in the manuscript.) 
Maybe this. Now, let me see. What would Barz think? What are 
the main questions he would ask to decide if a lyric is appropriate 
here? I know. The first question is: Would it make sense for the 
character to burst into song here? Is this a spot where the character 
discovers something he feels strongly about so he senses the 
need to express himself in song? And will his emoting reveal 
something important about his character? Well, maybe. I'll think 
about it. Meanwhile, I'll mark it as a possibility for a lyric. Yes. 
That's what I'll do. I'll mark all the spots and after I get through 
the whole play I'll go back and pick out the best spots and make a 
list. I'll do that rather than start writing the lyrics as I go. That's 
what Barz suggested. I think he'll be impressed with my careful 



32 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Flays and a Libretto 



selection of potential lyrics. It will show him that I'm capable of 
thoughtful planning rather than being carried away on the spur of 
the moment. (She reaches for a pen and circles the page number in 
her manuscript.) 

RUTH continues reading the 
manuscript, stopping from time to 
time to reread a page. 

RUTH 

(Stopping to read a page carefully.) 
Hmm. Here is a possibility. It would certainly be emotional, and 
would justify the character bursting into song. I'll mark it as a 
potential lyric. (She uses her pen to circle the page number.) 

RUTH continues reading the 
manuscript. The computer beeps, 
signaling incoming e-mail. RUTH 
quickly sits up in her seat, places 
her open manuscript and pen next 
to her on the desk, and clicks on 
her computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Obviously disappointed.) 
No. Not from him. Just a piece of junk e-mail. I wish I could get 
them to stop sending me junk e-mail. I'll delete it this time but I'm 
really getting tired of having to deal with unsolicited e-mail. Maybe 
I'll call my internet provider one of these days to ask them to block 
all the junk e-mail. I have neither the time nor the inclination to 
read junk. The problem is, when you call your internet provider, 
you have to go through all these instructions to "press this" and 
"press that" and after all that you end up having to listen to an 
unintelligible recording, so it's a big waste of time. I'll just delete it. 

RUTH clicks on the computer 
screen, picks up her open 

33 



SOUL MATE 

manuscript and pen, leans back 
in her seat again, and continues 
reading. She stops occasionally 
to reread a page, once in a while 
marking the page with her pen. 
After a while, the computer beeps, 
signaling incoming e-mail. RUTH 
quickly sits up in her seat, places 
her open manuscript and pen on 
the desk next to her, and clicks on 
the computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Obviously disappointed again.) 
No. Another piece of junk e-mail. I'll delete it, but maybe I'll just 
ignore incoming e-mail for a while. (She clicks on the computer 
screen.) I can't imagine he'll have a voice recording for me this 
soon. I really don't know what's involved in making a voice 
recording since this is all new to me, but hearing from him this 
fast would just be, well, far beyond my wildest expectations. So I'll 
just ignore incoming e-mail for a while. I have to go through the 
manuscript. 

RUTH leans back in her seat 
again, picks up her open 
manuscript and pen, and continues 
reading, stopping occasionally to 
reread a page and once in a while 
marking the page with her pen. 
After a while, the computer beeps, 
signaling incoming e-mail. RUTH 
resists looking at her computer 
screen and continues reading her 
manuscript and marking it. This 
happens several times while RUTH 
continues reading. The computer 
beeps again. RUTH sits up, sets 



34 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

aside her manuscript and pen and 
clicks on the computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Looking at her computer screen.) 
I can't stand the wait any more. No. No. No. Oh, there's a letter 
from Barz after all. Here it is. Barz. 

RUTH clicks on the screen and 
waits for the e-mail window to 
open. 

RUTH 

(Looking intently at the screen.) 
And an attachment, too! (Reading aloud.) "Hi, Ruth. Attached is 
my voice recording of a song based on your lyric SOUL MATE. 
Although my voice is not as good as I would have wished, and 
my piano playing not as expert as I would have liked, I think the 
recording will give you a feel for the song as I conceive it. Please 
let me know if you think the feel of the song accords with what 
you meant to express in the lyric. If so, I will work to perfect the 
song along its present lines. On the other hand, if you think the 
composition is off, please let me know how you think it can be 
made to better express the emotions underlying your beautiful 
lyric. I will be waiting eagerly to hear from you. Barz" 

RUTH clicks on the attachment, 
then again on a window that opens 
up on the screen. Presently, the 
room is filled with the sound of 
piano music, expressively played. 
RUTH leans back in her seat, 
closes her eyes, and listens to the 
recording. After some introductory 
piano music, her lyric is heard 
sung in a mans tenor voice 
accompanied by a piano. 



35 



soul ma: 



BARZ'S VOICE ON RECORDING 



Let me tell you 
What I have known 
As an old widow 
Left alone. 

When you are old 
And your mate's gone 
The saddest part 
When you're alone 

Is not that you 
Cannot now speak 
To your dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
Your silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No-one knows how. 



Your soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear your silence 
And would have known. 



I've lived way past 
My golden years. 
My heart is filled 
With silent tears. 

Now that I'm old 
And my mate's gone 
The saddest part 
When I'm alone 



36 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



Is not that I 
Cannot now speak 
To my dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
My silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No-one knows how. 



My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 



Some day I'll join him 
Where we're free 
And once again 
We'll soul mates be. 

I will be quiet, 
Never speak, 
Though times become 
So very bleak. 

I will stay mum. 
My silence, though, 
My mate will hear 
And he will know. 



My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 



Tears fill RUTH'S eyes. Wiping her 
tears away, she opens her eyes, sits 



37 



SOUL MATE 

up and again clicks on the computer 
screen. She leans back in her seat 
and closes her eyes as she listens 
again to the recording. When the 
singing is done, she sits up in her 
seat and, with tears in her eyes, 
clicks on the computer screen. 

RUTH 

(Speaking as she types.) 
"Dear Barz, — I received — your voice recording — of SOUL 
MATE — and have listened to it — more than once. — All I can 
say is — you sing soulfully — and your piano playing — reminds 
me — of the passionate way — someone I knew — quite well — 
years ago — used to play. — But I was mostly moved — by the 
melody — you composed — for my lyric. — I was struck — by 
the way — it captured the feeling — I tried to express — in that 
piece, — the emotion — behind my words. — I think you are 
blessed — with that rare quality — called 'empathy,' — the ability 

— to place yourself— in someone else's — - shoes — and feel 

— their pain. — I have long believed — that it is this — capacity 
for empathy — that is at the basis — not only — of all — human 
understanding — but actually — at the core — of our humanity. 

— Your music — certainly captured — the feeling — behind my 
lyric. — It captured the silence — behind my words. — And so 
from now on — if you don't mind — I will consider you — my 

— soul mate. — Thank you — for what you have — already done 

— for me — and for what I know — you will still do. — Ruth" 

RUTH rereads her e-mail silently, 
then clicks on the computer screen 
to send it. She clicks on the screen 
again, leans back in her seat and 
closes her eyes as the sound of 
SOUL MATE fills the room. 

CURTAIN 

38 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

&* *Q> 

A One-Act Play 



39 



CHARACTERS 



VINCENT the ghost of artist Vincent van Gogh 
JUDITH an elderly artist 



TIME AND PLACE 

An art studio in a house in a suburb in the U.S.A. in the 1990s. 

As appropriate throughout, when this play is used as a screenplay, 
scenes from World War II, the Holocaust and the Israeli War of 
Independence, as well as Judith Weinshall Liberman's artworks, 
are shown. 



41 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

The curtain rises to reveal a 
spacious art studio. There is a door 
at stage right, upstage, facing the 
audience. A large window along 
the adjacent wall has an opaque 
drape, which is drawn closed, 
so no light comes in through the 
window. The closed drape suggests 
isolation from the outside world. 
Groupings of paintings are leaning 
against the walls, face down. 
There is a low table near the wall 
on which are piled some folded 
fabrics. On one wall, barely visible, 
is a photographic portrait of Anne 
Frank. The room is dimly lit except 
for a small work area which is 
illuminated by a bright fluorescent 
fixture. The work area is dominated 
by a large table, which is cluttered 
with brushes, paint tubes, palettes, 
jars containing water, paper towels 
etc. Near the table, close to stage 
front and standing perpendicular 
to the table 's edge, is an easel with 
a painting on stretched canvas 
propped on it. In front of the easel, 
facing the painting, is a stool, 
on which the artist, JUDITH, is 
seated. She is dressed in black and 
is painting. 

JUDITH 

(Drops her brush into a water jar and speaks to the audience.) 
I am old now, but my passion for creating art has remained 
constant through all these many years. If you ask me what 
my earliest memory is of wanting to be an artist, I think I can 

43 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

honestly say that it all began when I was a little girl, maybe six or 
seven years old. 

My mother insisted that my brother, Saul, who was about a 
year older than me, and I spend our summer away from home, at a 
boarding camp. I remember that one day, while at camp, I received 
a postcard from my nanny, Raya. I guess she missed me as much 
as I missed her, so she sent me a postcard. The postcard had a 
picture of boats on it. I found the picture breathtaking. I remember 
studying it carefully before I even read what Raya said on the back 
side. The picture showed some boats on a sandy beach. The boats 
were all different colors. The one in front was red. Just beyond it 
was a green boat. Beyond these two were a couple of lavender-blue 
boats. The boats stood out strikingly against the yellow-orange 
sand and the light blue sky. 

I knew right away that the picture was not a photograph but 
rather a painting created by some artist. The colors looked nothing 
like those at any beach I had ever seen, and I knew a lot about 
beach scenes even then, since I grew up in Haifa, Israel, a city on 
the Mediterranean coast, and had often been taken to the beach. 
So as I looked at the postcard, I wondered who the artist was who 
had painted that beautiful picture. I turned to the back of the card 
to look for the artist's name. His name was Vincent van Gogh. The 
name sounded strange and wonderful. Vincent van Gogh. I believe 
the title of the painting was given as Fishing Boats on the Beach. 

As I turned the postcard to its front again and continued 
studying the picture, I remember wondering whether the artist - 
this Vincent - painted the boats the colors he did because the boats 
he saw on a beach were really those colors or whether he made up 
the colors as he painted because he liked these colors, especially 
when they were combined with the yellow-orange sand and the 
blue sky. For years I wished that I could meet this Vincent and ask 
him the question that I wanted the answer to. 

It's strange how some things that happened to you even at such 
an early age stay with you. I have often asked myself whether 
seeing that picture on that postcard was what inspired me to 
eventually become an artist and what my life would have been like 
if my nanny, Raya, never sent me that beautiful postcard. 

44 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

And then, one day, many years later, as I was deeply engrossed 
in painting, there was a knock on my studio door. It so happened 
that at that time I was working on a series of boat paintings, 
brilliantly colored, perhaps inspired by that picture of boats I saw 
on a postcard at camp in my childhood. I didn't normally paint 
such bright, "happy" paintings. But I did occasionally, as an escape 
from my more serious, somber works, which are focused on the 
human condition. 

JUDITH picks up her brush 
and resumes painting. There is 
a knock on the door. JUDITH 
is oblivious to the knocking and 
continues painting. There is 
another knock on the door, this 
one louder. JUDITH, annoyed at 
the interruption, glances at the 
door but continues painting. The 
knocking on the door becomes 
louder and more persistent. 
JUDITH sighs, reluctantly drops 
her brush into the water jar, 
gets off her stool and walks to 
the door. She unlocks the door 
and opens it slightly, then peeks 
out, shading her eyes against the 
bright sunlight. The door swings 
open, almost knocking JUDITH 
over. VINCENT is standing in the 
doorway. He is in his mid-thirties. 
JUDITH recognizes him at once 
and is startled to see him since he 
has been dead for over a century. 

JUDITH 

(Muttering to herself.) 
Vincent van Gogh?! How can that be? 

45 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

VINCENT 

(Extends his hand through the doorway.) 
Just call me "Vincent," please. 

JUDITH 

(Hesitantly extends her hand to shake his.) 
My name is "Judith." 

VINCENT pushes JUDITH aside 
and walks in. JUDITH recovers 
and hesitantly closes the door 
behind him. 

JUDITH 

(Muttering to herself.) 
Am I just imagining things? 

VINCENT 

No, no! I assure you, I'm really here! 

JUDITH 

But you've been dead for over a hundred years! I remember the 
story well. Dead of a bullet to the abdomen, a suicide... 

VINCENT 

That's what they said. But as you know, artists never die. They live 
forever. 

VINCENT glances around, then 
walks briskly to the window. With a 
strong, sweeping motion, he draws 
the curtain aside. The studio is 
flooded with sunlight. 

VINCENT 

There! 



46 



ON BL1NG AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Please... 

VINCENT 

Now, that's much better, isn't it? 

JUDITH 

(Walks to the window and draws the curtain closed.) 
Sorry, but I much prefer to keep the curtain closed. I don't really 
like the sunlight. And I don't want anyone peering in through the 
window. I relish my privacy. 

VINCENT 

(Walks to the window and again draws the curtain aside.) 
You cannot paint if you keep yourself in the dark. 

JUDITH 

(Sighing in resignation.) 
Sorry about the mess. I wasn't expecting anyone. I rarely do. 

VINCENT 

That is exactly why I came. 

JUDITH 

What do you mean? 

VINCENT 

I came to save you. 

JUDITH 

Save me? From whom? From what? 

VINCENT 

From yourself. 

JUDITH 

From myself? You're kidding! Why would I need saving? 

47 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

VINCENT 

You're completely isolated. 

JUDITH 

So? What* s wrong with that? I'm an artist and I need solitude to 
create my art. 

VINCENT 

Isolation is not good for anyone, let alone an artist. Artists are 
particularly sensitive people and isolation can lead them to 
depression, and that can make them go over the edge, as was the 
case with me. 

JUDITH 

Maybe each of us is different. I cherish my solitude. 

VINCENT 

People are meant to be social beings. Remember how 7 in Genesis, 
it tells us that first God created Adam and then He created Eve? 
That means that in God's view man should not be alone. And that's 
even truer of a woman. When God created Eve. Adam was already 
around. 

JUDITH 

(Obviously annoyed.) 
How did you find me. anyway? 

VINCENT 

I'm sensitive to the plight of lonely artists. It's as if my spiritual 
antenna picks up on them. You may have heard about my own 
isolation. I tried to bond with people but it didn't work, except for 
my brother. Theo, and he was far away. I picked up your signal and 
came to rescue you. 

JUDITH 

If you were tuned into me. as you say, does that mean you know 
everything about me? About my life? About my art? 



48 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

Oh, no! Of course not! Nothing of the sort! What do you think I 
am? God? I just know that you're a lonely artist. That's enough to 
trigger the signal for me to come and save you. 

JUDITH 

But I'm perfectly fine. 

VINCENT 

(Walks to the easel and studies JUDITH'S painting.) 
Boats! One of my favorite subjects! 

JUDITH 

I know. (Pause) Actually. I've wanted to ask you. . . 

VINCENT 

You have a good sense of color. But you should really paint 
outdoors, not like this, in a studio. 

JUDITH 

I'm afraid I'm a studio painter. I paint what's inside me. My 
knowledge. My memories. My imagination. My feelings. By the 
way, I've always wanted to ask you. . . 

VINCENT 

It's not good for you to be alone. 

JUDITH 

... about your painting Fishing Boats on the Beach. 

VINCENT 

Oh, you're familiar with it? 

JUDITH 

Yes, actually. . . 



49 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

VINCENT 

Of all the boat paintings I did, that was my favorite. 

JUDITH 

I first saw it reproduced on a postcard that my nanny sent me when 
I was away at camp. I was just a little girl but I was captivated by 
the colors you used. I remember wondering. . . 

VINCENT 

Glad to hear one of my paintings appealed to you. Do you realize 
that I sold only a single painting in my whole life? I painted 
hundreds, but nobody seemed to like what I was doing, except, of 
course, my brother, Theo. 

JUDITH 

I remember reading about him. He managed an art gallery in Paris, 
right? 

VINCENT 

Yes, a very fine art gallery. I sent each painting to him as I 
completed it so he could sell it. But nobody wanted to buy my 
paintings. (Pause.) It's good to know you liked something I did. 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes! It was the first of your paintings that I ever saw, but not the 
last. In fact, I've seen a lot of artworks since I first saw yours, but you've 
always been my favorite artist. I especially admire your use of color. 

VINCENT 

That is good to know. 

JUDITH 

Now, in that painting of Fishing Boats on the Beach, I wondered, 
as soon as I saw it, whether the boats you painted were really those 
colors or whether you made up that color combination. The red and 
green and lavender-blue of the boats were so striking against the 
yellow-orange of the sand and the blue sky. 

50 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

It's quite unusual for someone so young to wonder about such a 
profound matter. The question of imitating reality versus recreating 
it goes to the very core of art. How old did you say you were when 
you first asked the question? 

JUDITH 

I was six or seven. 

VINCENT 

Amazing! Sounds like you were destined to be an artist even then. 

JUDITH 

So what is the answer? 

VINCENT 

I tended to make up my own color schemes, or at least to 
exaggerate the colors I saw. I wanted to express my feelings 
through my paintings, and color seemed to be the natural way for 
me to do so. 

JUDITH 

For me, too, color is the surest way to self expression. 

VINCENT 

Yet I still made a point of painting outdoors rather than in a studio. 

JUDITH 

But why, if you made things up anyway? 

VINCENT 

Being outdoors inspired me greatly even if I didn't copy what I 
saw. Just being out there made me feel like I was part of God's 
creation. It made me want to sing a hymn to God, so to speak, 
which is what I tried to do through my art. 



51 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH 

I read that you were quite religious when you were young, and that 
before you became an artist, you wanted to be a preacher. 

VINCENT 

True, I did. I wanted to be a minister, like my father. But I failed at 
it. One of the many failures of my life. 

JUDITH 

Failures? Perhaps it was a stepping stone on your way to finding 
yourself and your true voice, to discovering that you were an artist. 

VINCENT 

Perhaps. (Pause.) But I didn't really come here to talk about myself. 

JUDITH 

I still don't understand why you came. 

VINCENT 

I already told you. To help you. I was concerned. 

JUDITH 

You shouldn't have been. 

VINCENT 

Your isolation... 

JUDITH 

It's self-imposed. I don't mind being alone. Actually, I rather like 
it. It gives me time to sort out my own thoughts and feelings and 
enables me to express what's inside me. 

VINCENT 

Man was not meant to be alone. That is true of woman, too. 



52 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

(Tries to change the subject by pointing to the painting on her easel) 
Actually, this boat painting is part of a series. (Points to a group 
of paintings leaning against the wall) I always work in series. It 
seems I can't exhaust a subject by simply painting a single painting 
about it. 

VINCENT walks over to one of 
the groupings of paintings leaning 
against the wall and turns some of 
the paintings around. 

VINCENT 

I did the same. But I did my work outdoors. I sought out people. If I 
was alone, it was not because I wanted to be. It was despite myself. 

JUDITH 

I heard that you tried to establish an artists' colony. I know the 
story about you and Gauguin. Your ear. . . 

VINCENT 

Unfortunately, I was never good at getting along with people. I 
really don't know why, since my heart was filled with love. I was 
hoping that Paul would stay and we could paint together. 

JUDITH 

I saw the pain of the separation in some of your self portraits. I 
remember the one with the bandaged ear, after you cut your ear. 
I always found your self portraits quite moving. They opened a 
window into your suffering. 

VINCENT 

Yes, I wasn't interested in a photographic portrayal of myself. I 
used my self portraits to reveal my soul. Did you paint any self 
portraits? 



53 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes. Many. A whole series of them when I first began painting. 
I was trying to understand myself, trying to answer the question 
why I was so committed to my art. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some of 
her SELF PORTRAITS. 

VINCENT 

(Pointing to her signature on one of the paintings.) 
I notice you just signed your paintings with your first name, 
"Judith" - as I did with mine. 

JUDITH 

Yes, it seems more personal, more intimate. But we were talking 
about you and Gauguin. Maybe it wasn't your fault that Gauguin 
left. Maybe Gauguin was too controlling, and you wouldn't let him 
control you. No artist wants to be controlled. It goes against the 
very essence of an artist's being. Independence. Freedom. 

VINCENT 

I really don't know who was at fault, Paul or I. But right now it 
doesn't matter. The fact that I failed to bond with people doesn't 
mean you shouldn't try. As I said, artists are particularly sensitive. 
Isolation can easily lead them to catastrophe. I am concerned that 
you're too isolated for your own good. 

JUDITH 

With all due respect, I'm perfectly content being alone and having 
a chance to paint and express my thoughts and feelings. 

VINCENT 

What have you painted other than boats and self portraits? I see 
a lot of paintings along the walls. I myself found flowers to be a 
particularly good subject to paint. Very uplifting. I don't know if 
you heard about my flower paintings. 



54 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes! I love your flower paintings. Your sunflowers were quite 
inspirational for me. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest series I 
did was of flowers. 



VINCENT 



Show me. 



JUDITH walks to the wall where a 
bunch of canvases are leaning face 
down, and turns a couple of the 
canvases around. They are part of 
her FLOWERS series. 

VINCENT 

Lovely. But very sad. I notice you present each flower by itself, in 
a separate painting, like a portrait. These flower paintings reflect 
your isolation, perhaps your own sadness. Flowers should express 
happiness, lift up the spirit. 

JUDITH 

I know you did that with your flower paintings, and I admire them, 
but maybe that's why there are different artists. We can't all say the 
same thing even if our subject matter is the same. 

VINCENT 

Perhaps not. But flowers?! 

JUDITH 

(Changing the subject.) 
You may be interested in another one of my series. This one is 
more recent. 

JUDITH walks to the wall where 
a bunch of canvases are leaning 
face down, and turns a couple of 
the canvases around. They are part 



55 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

of her colorful NEW INTERIORS 
series. 

VINCENT 

Interesting color schemes. Quite expressive. But not happy. 

JUDITH 

I used jarring color combinations to convey the sense that 
something is amiss in this world. 

VINCENT 

I did some interiors myself. But I created them to celebrate life. 

JUDITH 

I know. Beautiful. But then that was your point of view. 

VINCENT 

Yes, but. . . 

JUDITH 

I did another set of interiors, actually long before I did this series. 

JUDITH turns a couple of the 
canvases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
MYSTIC INTERIORS series. 

VINCENT 

How different from the other interiors! But still, quite sad. 

JUDITH 

I painted a mysterious light shining in each of the paintings, and 
surrounded the mysterious light with lots of dark, so the light 
would stand out even more. I was asking a question about the 
greatest mystery of life. Is there a God after all? 



56 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

An important question. And what did you conclude? 

JUDITH 

I wasn't sure I had the answer then. I simply asked the question. 

VINCENT 

That is certainly a worthwhile goal for art to pursue. To ask the 
important questions. But we must give answers. . . 

JUDITH 

Actually, I also asked some important questions in my very first 
series, that of MOTHER AND CHILD. Questions about the nature 
of the mother-child relationship. I had just become a mother, and 
reflected about the complex relationship between mother and child, 
which is sometimes positive and, at other times, destructive. 

JUDITH turns some of the 
canvases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
MOTHER AND CHILD series. 

VINCENT 

I heard that when a woman becomes a mother, she thinks about her 
relationship with her own mother. Did you have a good relationship 
with yours? 

JUDITH 

No. My mother was quite explosive. I never knew what would set 
her off. She would suddenly erupt and was physically abusive to 
my brother and to me. I think she had a good heart but. . . 

VINCENT 

(Takes JUDITH in his arms.) 
Perhaps that explains your isolation. You don't trust people. You're 
afraid they'll hurt you, as your mother did. 



57 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH 

(Extricates her self from VINCENT'S embrace.) 
Perhaps. I had a wonderful father, though. He was just the opposite 
of my mother, calm and thoughtful and very kind. I felt very close 
to him. 

VINCENT 

You were blessed. My own relationship with my father was not the 
best. He was quite disappointed that I became an artist. 

JUDITH 

My father was, too, when I became an artist. But that's another 
story. (She shows VINCENT some of her MOTHER AND CHILD 
paintings.) I used earth tones to express the elemental relationship 
between mother and child. I had a teacher who thought I should use 
bright colors in this series. I left him because he tried to force me 
to do things his way. 

VINCENT 

I used earth tones myself in some of my early works. 

JUDITH 

I know. The Miners. The Potato Eaters. These paintings of yours 
are so expressive, even without the use of pure colors! 

VINCENT 

My palette brightened with time, as I found happier subjects to 
paint. 

JUDITH 

Mine did not, except intermittently. I guess my development went 
in the opposite direction to yours, Actually I went on to paint about 
more serious subjects. Like war. . . 

VINCENT 

Like what?! 



58 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Like war. 

VINCENT 

War? You? 

JUDITH 

Why not? Do you think that only men feel the pain of war? 

VINCENT 

Frankly, I never thought of it one way or the other. I never thought 
of war at all. 

JUDITH 

My only sibling, my brother, Saul, was killed in war and he was 
only twenty-one when he fell. I still feel the pain of his death. 

VINCENT 

My older brother died, too. But I never knew him. He died in 
infancy, before I was even born. His name was "Vincent" and my 
parents decided to call me by his name in his memory. My parents 
never got over his death. They viewed me as a replacement for their 
dead first-born. 

JUDITH 

My parents did the same to me when my brother was killed. I 
was to replace him. He was studying law when he volunteered to 
fight for Israel's independence and lost his life. I had to study law 
so I could take his place. But eventually I found my way to art, 
although the guilt of not following in my brother's footsteps never 
left me. 

VINCENT 

I am truly sorry to hear that. But you must force yourself to think 
of happier things. 



59 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH 

I painted a whole series about the Vietnam War. But while I was 
painting about Vietnam, my thoughts were more universal, about 
war in general. Wounded soldiers. And dead ones. And the women 
left behind to bury the dead and grieve over them. 

JUDITH turns some of the 
canvases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
VIETNAM series. 

VINCENT 

Very moving. But you should try to think of happier things. 

JUDITH 

Easier said than done. Not long after I painted my Vietnam series, 
my husband became ill. 

VINCENT 

Sorry to hear that. 

JUDITH 

First he had a heart attack and then a stroke, and he could no longer 
play the piano because of his stroke and that plunged him into a 
deep depression. He was ill for ten years, during which he suffered 
a second stroke. And then he died. 

VINCENT 

So sorry to hear that. But at least you had someone. How long were 
you with him? 

JUDITH 

Over thirty years. 

VINCENT 

That is quite an accomplishment in itself. (Pause.) Perhaps you can 
tell me the secret. 



60 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

He was my soul mate. 

VINCENT 

I was never able to maintain a relationship with a woman. I was a 
failure at love as in so many other aspects of my life. 

JUDITH 

You were the greatest artist! 

VINCENT 

I failed completely in my relationships with women. I first fell 
in love with my landlady's daughter when I was very young and 
living in England while managing my uncle's art gallery. I loved 
her but she rejected me and married someone else. One of the early 
failures of my life. 

JUDITH 

That must have broken your heart! 

VINCENT 

It did. That's when I decided to become a minister, to escape the 
pain by doing some good, by serving others. But I failed at that, 
too. 

JUDITH 

Maybe you just weren't cut out to be a minister. 

VINCENT 

And then I fell in love with my cousin. She was beautiful. Actually, 
a widow with a child. But she, too, rejected me. She wouldn't even 
agree to see me. It hurt for many years. It still does. 

JUDITH 

Sorry about that! 



61 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

VINCENT 

And there was my doctor's daughter. I adored her. But she 
would have nothing to do with me. Even her father, who was a 
psychologist, couldn't explain it. 

JUDITH 

How sad! 

VINCENT 

Actually, the only woman who agreed to have a relationship with 
me was a poor street walker, a prostitute, with a child. She was 
pregnant when I met her. But even she left me before too long. She 
preferred being a street walker to being with me. 

JUDITH 

How terrible! I think I read about some of these things. But you 
really shouldn't take them personally. 

VINCENT 

How can I not? 

JUDITH 

Maybe the particular women you were attracted to were not 
right for you. Maybe you simply never met a woman who could 
appreciate you. You never met your soul mate. 

VINCENT 

It made me feel like a failure. My heart was filled with love, and 
yet nobody would have me. 

JUDITH 

Just try to look on the bright side. You had all that extra time and 
pent up energy to paint! 

VINCENT 

Man cannot live alone. You must have been quite lonesome when 
your husband died. 



62 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

I drowned my sorrow in my work. I began painting about the 
Holocaust. 

VINCENT 

And what is that? 

JUDITH 

Aren't you familiar with the history of the twentieth century? The 
two world wars? 

VINCENT 

No. No, I left beforehand. Besides, I never was much interested in 
history. The life around me was sufficient to keep me busy. The 
beautiful world that God created. . . 

JUDITH 

If you had lived in the twentieth century, you would have found 
it more appropriate to devote your art to expressing your feelings 
about the world that man rather than God created. 

VINCENT 

I doubt it. I probably would have continued celebrating God and 
His creation. 

JUDITH 

No. Not with your sensitivity. If you had seen the twentieth century, 
with its never-ending violence and suffering, you would have felt 
compelled to speak about it through your art. How can an artist sit 
idly by while the world is burning all around? Doesn't an artist have 
an obligation to protest the devastation which man has wrought? 
The Holocaust was among the worst manifestations of man's 
inhumanity to man. One leader, Hitler, was intent on destroying the 
whole Jewish people and he had many willing followers. They were 
called "Nazis." Hitler and his henchmen proceeded to systematically 
kill six million of us in just a few short years. That's what is called 
"The Holocaust." That's what I've been creating art about. 



63 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her HOLOCAUST PAINTINGS, 
first some scenes, then some maps. 

VINCENT 

You mustn't paint about such terrible things! Art is meant to serve 
beauty, to lift up man's spirit, to celebrate God! 

JUDITH 

Was it God who created or even allowed man's inhumanity to man? 
War? The Holocaust? And if there is a God, where was He in the 
Holocaust while six million people perished? 

VINCENT 

Some questions cannot be answered. We have to accept God's 
existence and His justice on faith. I always did. 

JUDITH 

Was it God who made you ill and allowed you - the world's 
greatest artist - to shoot yourself at such a young age and deprive 
the world of more of your work? Was it God who caused the death 
of your older brother in infancy, and the death of mine in war? If 
so, why did God do that and subject you and me to a life of pain? 

VINCENT 

Maybe that's what made us into such committed artists, feeling 
that we had to make up for our dead sibling by living a life for two. 

JUDITH 

Maybe. It's true that I have always felt that through my art I had to 
make up for what the world lost when my brother was killed, but. . . 

VINCENT 

(Noticing the Anne Frank photograph on the wall and pointing to it.) 
And who is that? Your sister? . 



64 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Not really. I didn't have a sister, only a brother. But I do feel very 
close to her. 

VINCENT 

Who is she? 

JUDITH 

Her name was "Anne," "Anne Frank." She was a Jewish girl, one 
of the victims of the Holocaust. Some of my Holocaust works are 
devoted to her. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her HOLOCAUST PAINTINGS 
about Anne Frank. 

VINCENT 

Quite moving. But why did you paint about her specifically if, as 
you told me, six million Jews were killed? 

JUDITH 

For one thing, she was a child in the Holocaust, and therefore 
represents the million-and-a-half children who were killed then. 
And since she has been famous ever since her diary was published 
after the war, I thought I could focus on her in some of my 
artworks and make the Holocaust seem more personal, more real, 
to people than an abstraction like "six million" could. 

VINCENT 

That makes sense. How old was she when she died? 

JUDITH 

A teenager. Not yet sixteen. Actually she was born the same year 
I was, and I have long felt that if I hadn't been so lucky as to be 
in Israel during the war, I would have shared her fate. Luckily the 
Nazis never made it to Israel or we would all have been killed, too. 



65 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

VINCENT 

How terrible! How lucky you were spared! Where did this Anne 
Frank live? 

JUDITH 

Actually, in your homeland. In Holland. 

VINCENT 

In Holland? Holland was always such a hospitable country and its 
people such hospitable people! 

JUDITH 

Well, the Nazis took Holland over. Anne Frank's family, which 
was from Germany, sought refuge in Holland when Hitler came to 
power in Germany. But a few years later, Hitler conquered Holland, 
as he did a large portion of Europe, and the fate of Anne Frank and 
her family was sealed. They managed to hide for a while, and to 
survive in Amsterdam with the help of some kind Dutch people, 
but eventually Anne and her family were caught and shipped to 
their death. Only Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived. He is the one 
who brought Anne's story to light by publishing her diary. 

VINCENT 

I would have liked to read it. How sad for such a young girl to die! 

JUDITH 

I created not only paintings about her but also some wall hangings. 
You know, works on fabric. Large works that would express, even 
by their size alone, the enormity of the Holocaust. 

JUDITH walks to the low table 
by the wall, where some fabrics 
are folded one on top of the other, 
and spreads some of the works 
on the floor to show VINCENT 
some of her HOLOCAUST WALL 
HANGINGS about Anne Frank. 



66 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

How unusual! Did you paint some of the images on these? 

JUDITH 

Yes, I did, like this large image of Anne Frank in ANNE 
FRANK'S HIDING PLACE. I tried to print it from a block I 
carved but it was too large to work. I used a lot of printing in these 
works, though; not only printing, but also sewing and embroidery 
and beading and applique, crafts as well as painting. We call 
these works "multi-media wall hangings" because many different 
mediums are used in each. 

VINCENT 

How clever! My mother used to sew. These works bring back 
memories of her. And, of course, I am moved by the fact that you 
created so much art about a young Dutch girl. I feel very close to 
you, having seen all this. 

VINCENT takes JUDITH in his 
arms. She breaks free of his grasp. 

JUDITH 

Maybe I should show you another series I did about the Holocaust, 
in addition to the paintings and wall hangings. It's called SELF 
PORTRAITS OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST. In this series I tried to 
express my emotional identification with victims of the Holocaust. 
Many of the works show my identification with Anne Frank. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her SELF PORTRAITS OF A 
HOLOCAUST ARTIST works, 
especially those about Anne Frank. 

VINCENT 

This is incredible! How you created a portrait that is a combination 
of yourself and of Miss Frank! You may be isolated here, but it 
seems you have not been alone. 

67 



VINCENT'S VISIT 

JUDITH 

I think you understand me better now. I am not alone, ever. When I 
create artworks about Anne Frank, she is very much with me. 

VINCENT 

Maybe you're not alone because you have been blessed with that 
rare quality called "empathy." Strange that I came here to rescue 
you from isolation and found that your solitude actually allows you 
to connect with others, with mankind, with God's creation. 

JUDITH 

There is really no boundary between isolation and union. For an 
artist, isolation can lead to union. 

VINCENT 

(Pause.) 
I've learned so much from you. I am wondering if you would allow 
me to stay. We have so much in common. I will encourage you and 
support you in your art. (Pause.) I love you! 

VINCENT takes JUDITH in his 
arms and kisses her on the lips. 
She doesn't resist and they are 
locked in a long embrace. 

JUDITH 

(As if awakening from a dream.) 
I really appreciate your visit. I have dreamed of meeting you 
practically all my life. Your visit has given me so much! It even 
makes me wonder if there is a God after all. Who else could have 
sent you to me? But I have to continue with my work. I cannot 
allow myself to be distracted from it by a personal relationship. 

VINCENT 

But you had a long relationship with your late husband. Why can't I 
simply take his place? 



68 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

That was another time. I am much older now and time is getting 
shorter. I must devote myself fully to creating my art, before my 
voice is silenced. I must do it compulsively, like you did, no matter 
what the personal cost. 

JUDITH hugs VINCENT, then 
grasps his arm and leads him to 
the door. He tries to resist. 

VINCENT 

Please let me stay. I have finally found my soul mate. 

JUDITH 

Not now. Perhaps another time. 

JUDITH walks VINCENT to 
the door, opens it and guides 
VINCENT out. She waves to 
VINCENT and closes the door 
behind him. She walks to the 
window and draws the window 
drape closed. Then she walks to 
her stool, sits down, picks up her 
brush and resumes painting. 



CURTAIN 



69 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

A One-Act Play 



71 



CHARACTERS 



JUDITH 

ANNE (ghost) 
BOB (ghost) 
AVI (ghost) 
SAUL (ghost) 
MUSEUM GUESTS 



an elderly artist 
Anne Frank, a teenager 
Judith's husband 
Judith's father 
Judith's brother 
miscellaneous 



TIME AND PLACE 

The action takes place in the 1990s inside the main gallery of a 
museum in an American city. 

As appropriate throughout, when this play is used as a screenplay, 
scenes from World War II, the Holocaust and the Israeli War of 
Independence, as well as Judith Weinshall Liberman's artworks, 
are shown. 



73 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Flays and a Libretto 

The opening of a museum 
exhibition of JUDITH'S artworks 
about Anne Frank. The title of 
the exhibition, ANNE FRANK 
THROUGH THE EYES OF AN 
ARTIST, is prominently displayed 
at the gallery entrance. Inside 
the gallery JUDITH'S works are 
exhibited along the long gallery 
walls. The works are varied in 
medium and in size, ranging 
from very large wall hangings to 
very small intimate mixed media 
works. What all the works have in 
common is that the image of Anne 
Frank appears in all of them. 

JUDITH, standing near the 
entrance, greets the guests. She is 
dressed in black and has a serious 
demeanor. 

GUEST 

(Entering the gallery and glancing at the artworks on display.) 
Oh, my! Are any of these for sale? 

JUDITH 

Oh, no! They're meant as a gift to the museum. My art is not for sale. 

Perplexed, the guest moves into the 
gallery. 

JUDITH surveys the exhibition and 
remembers all the effort that went 
into creating each of the artworks. 
If one of the guests asked, she 
could explain how the works 



75 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

evolved and what they are intended 
to express. 

JUDITH 

(To herself.) 
First came ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE, in which Anne's 
image appears behind the floor plan of a part of the building in 
Amsterdam (the "Annex") where Anne and her family hid during 
the Nazi occupation of Holland. In this artwork, I included a 
passage from Anne's diary where Anne describes herself as a 
caged bird. The image of Anne behind the Annex floor plan 
conveys the feeling of entrapment expressed in Anne's diary. I 
then created the artwork titled ANNE FRANK'S AMSTERDAM, 
in which Anne's image appears repeatedly as if trapped in the 
spider-web-like layout of the streets of Amsterdam. There followed 
ANNE FRANK'S JOURNEY and BOX CAR, the first showing 
the long road Anne was forced to travel in her short life, the 
second featuring young Anne's face barely visible through the 
small window of a massive box car on the way to the camps. Other 
artworks about Anne ensued. In a series of SELF PORTRAITS 
and in WITNESS, I superimposed an image of my own eye over 
one of Anne's eyes in an expression of my effort to view life as 
Anne would. The image of a physical merger between Anne and 
me is further expressed in my series called SELF PORTRAITS OF 
A HOLOCAUST ARTIST. Through such a physical merger of my 
own image with that of the Holocaust victim, I express my feeling 
that "There but for the grace of God go I. . . " 

Despite the somber subject of 
the exhibition and the solemn 
demeanor of the artist, the 
atmosphere at the opening is 
festive, as is common at exhibition 
openings. The guests, distinguished 
members of society, are festively 
attired. While here and there 
one of the guests glances at the 



76 



ON BKING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

exhibition, the guests mainly 
congregate around the buffet table 
and seem to be more interested 
in the food and drinks than in the 
artworks. 

BOB suddenly appears. He is 
invisible except to JUDITH and to 
the theater audience. 

BOB 

I came because I know you need moral support and I love you. But 
you know my opinion. Dealing with the Holocaust is the last thing 
you should be doing to get over your depression. 

BOB fades away. JUDITH feels 
lonely in the midst of the crowd of 
guests. She looks at the artworks 
on the walls, works she has spent 
years creating, and wonders if it 
was all worthwhile. 

AVI appears. He is invisible except 
to JUDITH and to the theater 
audience. 

AVI 

You should have listened to me, Judith. You should have returned 
to Israel after you finished your studies in America. Israel is where 
you were born and Israel is where you belong. 

JUDITH 

(Whispering.) 



Please, Father. . 



77 



JUDITH AND ANNE 



AVI 

Our family didn't emigrate from Europe to Israel only to have you 
live in America and be an artist. 

JUDITH 

(Whispering.) 
Father, please . . . 

AVI 

In Israel you could have pursued a more useful occupation than art. 
I provided you with an excellent education, college and graduate 
school and law school, and after all that, you are frittering it all 
away by being an artist. In Israel you could have taken your brother 
Saul's place and made a real contribution. 

JUDITH 

Please, Father. Try to understand. I'm an artist. Art is the only 
thing I want to do. Here, in America, I don't feel the pressure to do 
anything else. I don't want the pressure. I don't need the pressure. 

AVI shakes his head from side to 
side and fades away. 

JUDITH 

(To herself) 
Maybe I'm not up to dealing with the Holocaust, especially since 
I was not in Europe during the Holocaust, so I wasn't one of its 
victims and I don't really know what the experience felt like. 
Maybe I shouldn't have tried to tackle the subject of Anne Frank. 
Poor Anne! She was born the same year I was but in Europe rather 
than in Israel, and therefore suffered such a horrible fate while 
I was spared all that. I feel guilty about having created all these 
works about Anne. Maybe I've exploited her image for my own 
purposes. Maybe I should have followed Bob's suggestion and 
continued creating art about other subjects Maybe I should have 
gone back to Israel and forgotten about being an artist. 



78 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

One of the guests approaches 
JUDITH. 

GUEST 

I want to congratulate you on the exhibition. But I want to ask you 
a question. I hope you don't take my question the wrong way, but 
why have you created so many works about Anne Frank? 

JUDITH 

(Hesitates.) 
Well, the main reason is that the concrete image of Anne serves to 
symbolize the fate of millions, among them the million-and-a-half 
children who perished in the Holocaust. 

GUEST 

(Obviously pleased.) 
Oh, I see. That makes sense. 

Smiling, the guest walks back to 
the buffet table. 

JUDITH 

(Shaking her head from side to side, speaking to herself.) 
I'm sure that's not the complete explanation. But I wish I knew 
what is. I've been grappling with the question myself all along. I 
know that the reason I've been so engrossed in creating art about 
Anne is not just because Anne's image could serve as a symbol for 
millions of Holocaust victims. No. That's not the complete answer. 
Anne is not just a symbol for Holocaust victims. To me, she is 
much more than a symbol. But what? 

While the guests are engrossed in 
cheerful chatter among themselves, 
and JUDITH finds herself alone, 
ANNE appears in the gallery. She 
is invisible to all but JUDITH 
and the theater audience. ANNE 



79 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

appears to be a young teen, much 
younger than JUDITH although 
they were born the same year. She 
is pale and thin, and is dressed 
in one of those light pinafores 
JUDITH had seen her wearing 
in some of the old photographs. 
JUDITH remembers that she 
herself used to dress in light 
clothing when she was younger. 
Now JUDITH seldom wears 
anything but black. 

JUDITH 

(Surprised to see ANNE, who has been dead for decades.) 
Oh! 

ANNE 
(Studying the artworks on the walls.) 
Why did you do all this? 

JUDITH 

I don't really know. I just felt I had to. 

ANNE shakes her head from side 
to side, then fades away. AVI 
reappears. He is invisible except 
to JUDITH and to the theater 
audience. 

AVI 

I'm worried about you, Judith. Here you are, immersed in the 
Holocaust. Our family was spared from the Holocaust because 
of my foresight and decision to leave Europe and settle in Israel 
back in 1920, long before Hitler came to power. Jewish history 
taught me early on that the Jewish people need a country of their 
own, where they can live as a free nation and defend themselves, 



80 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

and what better homeland could there be than Israel, our ancestral 
home dating back to the time of Abraham four thousand years ago? 
It's true that sometimes Israel is involved in war, and therefore 
people get killed. And sometimes one of those killed is someone 
close to us. But the best way to overcome our grief over their death 
is to follow in their footsteps and accomplish what they would 
have if they had lived. That is why I urged you to study law, so you 
could take Saul's place after he was killed. If you return to Israel 
and follow the path that Saul would have taken, it will help you 
better deal with your grief over Saul's death than living in America 
and creating art about the Holocaust. 

JUDITH 

I wish you were still proud of me, Father, the way you used to be. 
Apparently you can't see art as a serious pursuit, as something 
through which an artist can contribute to the betterment of society. 
But I had to create art because I had a lot of pain inside me and 
I needed to ease the pain. That's how an artist eases the pain, 
by creating art. And I'm an artist. I wish you would be more 
supportive, Father. Creating art about the Holocaust is difficult 
enough. I really don't need to be told I'm doing the wrong thing. 
What I need from you is your emotional support. 

AVI 

(Shaking his head from side to side.) 
If I didn't tell you, Judith, nobody would. I want what's best for 
you. I love you, Judith. You are the only one I have left. 

AVI fades away. BOB reappears. 
He is invisible except to JUDITH 
and to the theater audience. 

BOB 

I hate to see you so depressed, Judith. Creating art about the 
Holocaust is no way to get over your depression. You need to 
work on happier subjects, the way you used to. I just loved those 
landscapes you used to do, and your tree paintings and the flowers. 

81 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

(BOB takes JUDITH in his arms.) You know I was in the Air 
Force during the war. I was in Europe. And I saw some of the 
Nazi concentration camps after they were liberated. And I still 
remember some of those awful sights of emaciated, starving 
human beings, not to speak of the piles of corpses and the stench. 
But I try not to dwell on it. It's too painful to contemplate that 
human beings can behave that way toward other human beings. 
So I drown the memories in my music. Music makes me think of 
man's better nature. You could do the same for yourself through 
your art. Art should be uplifting, both to the artist and to the 
public, not depressing. 

BOB fades away. 

JUDITH is standing alone at the 
exhibition while the guests are 
engaged in animated conversation 
among themselves. JUDITH'S 
brother, SAUL, appears. He is 
invisible except to JUDITH and to 
the theater audience. He is dressed in 
a khaki Israeli army uniform. He is 
twenty-one years old, and although 
he was JUDITH'S older brother, he 
is now much younger than JUDHH. 
JUDITH is surprised to see him since 
he was killed in the Israeli War of 
Independence back in 1948. 

JUDITH 

Saul! Is that really you or am I imagining things? 

SAUL 

(Embracing JUDITH.) 
I am really here, Judith. I've come to comfort you because you 
seem to be so sad, always sad, and I want you to be happy, the way 
you were when we were kids together. 



82 



ON BEING AIM ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

That was such a very long time ago. . . 

SAUL 

Remember how we used to spend our summers swimming in the 
balmy blue waters of the Mediterranean? Remember how we used 
to sprawl on the sand and take in the view of our beautiful city of 
Haifa, with Mount Carmel rising so majestically against the pale 
blue sky? Not a care in the world. Just you and I and all that splendor. 

JUDITH 

Yes, I remember. And I remember when we spent the summer on 
holiday in Venice, and you missed the boat back to our hotel and I 
was sure I had lost you and then you showed up at the hotel after 
all. And I was so happy that I had not lost you. 

SAUL 

Yes, I remember. But it was no big deal. Maybe to you it seemed to 
be because you were only six. I just got on the next boat, that's all. 
I was already seven so I managed. 

JUDITH 

Even our nanny was worried. 

SAUL 

You're kidding! 

JUDITH 

And I remember when you spent a couple of years in Beirut 
attending the American University there and how I missed you and 
couldn't wait for you to come back to Haifa. And the world war 
was on and I was worried about you. The Nazis were getting closer. 
They were already in Greece. And you didn't even write to me. . . 

SAUL 

I know. I'm really sorry. I didn't want to think about being away from 
home. I figured if I didn't write, I wouldn't have to think about it. 

83 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

JUDITH 

And you didn't write when you were studying law in London, 
either, back in 1948. 1 was in America then, going to college. The 
U. N. had adopted the Partition Decision about Palestine and the 
war broke out over the establishment of Israel and. . . 

SAUL 

I know. Again, I thought not writing would help me forget. 

JUDITH 

And then you wrote me a letter from London. It was the only letter 
from London that I got from you. And you told me you decided 
to volunteer and go back to Israel to fight. You didn't have to go. 
You were exempt from military duty because you were a student. I 
called you as soon as I got your letter. It took half the night to reach 
your number. I told you that I wanted to go back with you, so I 
could fight, too. And you told me. . . 

SAUL 

Yes, I remember that phone call. And I told you not to go back. I 
told you to stay in America and finish your studies, just like Father 
wanted you to, so that in the end you could return to Israel and 
make a great contribution to our people. 

JUDITH 

I was too choked up to answer you. And then when you went back 
and got killed, I wished even more that I had gone back with you. 

SAUL 

It's a good thing you didn't go back then. Too many of our boys and 
girls were killed fighting for Israel's independence. Think about 
all you would have missed if you had gone back and been killed. 
(SAUL points to the artworks on the walls.) Think about all you've 
accomplished by surviving. Look at all the art you've created! 



84 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Father never approved of what I've been doing. He couldn't accept 
the fact that I decided to become an artist and live in America. 

SAUL 

I know, but you have to follow your heart, Judith, just as I did. 

JUDITH 

(Bursting into tears.) 
My life has not been the same since I lost you, Saul. For years I 
was so heartbroken that I didn't want to go on living. And then I 
discovered art, and it gave me a reason to live. Somehow every 
artwork, every single artwork I've ever created was linked to the 
fact that I lost you. It's as if in creating my art I've been acting for 
both of us and making up in some small measure for your death. 

SAUL 

Thank you, Judith. I will always be with you. 

SAUL takes JUDITH in his arms. 
He kisses her on the forehead and 
fades away. 

While JUDITH is alone and the 
museum guests are busy chatting 
among themselves and indulging 
in the food and drinks, ANNE 
reappears, as before, invisible to 
all but JUDITH and the theater 
audience. For a long moment 
ANNE studies the artworks 
displayed along the walls. 

ANNE 
(Turning to JUDITH.) 
I was just a kid during the war. We were in hiding at my father's 
office building in Amsterdam, in the back part of the building. We 

85 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

called it the "Annex." Then, after we were caught, we were taken 
to Westerbork, which is also in Holland, and from there we were 
shipped to Auschwitz . Did you know that Auschwitz is all the way 
in Poland? And then we had to leave Auschwitz when the Russians 
were getting close and we were shipped to the Bergen-Belsen 
camp. That's in Germany. Actually, I was born in Germany, in a 
city called "Frankfurt," and Father moved the family to Holland 
after Hitler came to power because we were Jewish and Hitler 
hated Jews, and Father thought Holland would be safe for us. So 
isn't it ironic that I ended up in Germany? After all that traveling 
- from Germany to Holland and then to Poland - 1 ended up in 
Germany after all! It was there, at the Bergen-Belsen camp, that I 
became ill with Typhus. I was only fifteen when I died. 

JUDITH 

I read about your ordeal. . . 

ANNE. 
The worst part of it is that I never had a chance to accomplish 
anything. 

JUDITH 

But your diary. . . 

ANNE 
Actually, my diary was meant to be private, just something I felt I 
needed to do for myself, to express how I felt in that awful place, 
with all of us - my family and the van Daans and Dr. Pfeiffer - 
all crammed together and getting on one another's nerves. I just 
needed to have an escape, and of course physical escape was 
impossible because the Annex was so small and the Nazis were all 
around. 

JUDITH 

I understand. Self expression is a good way to escape. . . 



86 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ANNE 
Besides, I wanted to become a writer, and I thought that keeping a 
diary would give me some practice. 

JUDITH 

You would have made a great writer, I'm sure of it. Actually, you 
were a wonderful writer even as a teen. I read your diary a while 
back but I still remember it vividly. I couldn't put it down, it was so 
gripping. 

ANNE 
Did you like to write when you were young? 

JUDITH 

I did, but I didn't keep a diary. 

ANNE 
My diary really wasn't meant to be read by anyone. It's just that I 
left it behind in the Annex when we were caught, and Mies found 
it after we were taken and she kept the diary all through the rest of 
the war and then she gave it to Father when he returned from the 
camps to Amsterdam after the war. You know, he was the only one 
of us who survived the war. 

JUDITH 

I know. . . 

ANNE 
The Van Daans and Dr. Pfeiffer. . . 

JUDITH 

I heard... 

ANNE 
Mother and Margot, my sister, also died. But at first Father didn't 
know it. He was hoping Mother and Margot and I had survived. So 
he returned to Amsterdam after the war and waited for us to come 



87 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

back. But of course we couldn't because we were all dead. So then 
Mies, who kept us alive all during our hiding by bringing us food 
and risking her own life doing that, Mies gave Father my diary. I 
told you, Mies was the one who found my diary in the Annex after 
we were taken away. And Father read it - something I know he 
wouldn't have done if he thought there was any chance that I would 
come back. 

JUDITH 

Your father was a very proper man, like mine. 

ANNE 
He was. And when he read my diary he decided to publish it. You 
know how fathers are, always eager to show the world what great 
kids they have. . . 

JUDITH 

Yes, my father was proud of me, too, until... Actually, it's a 
wonderful thing your father did, publishing your diary. The diary 
was translated into many languages and people all over the world 
were able to read it and it helped them understand what happened 
under Nazi occupation. . . 

ANNE 
It was awful to be so confined and not even be allowed to make a 
sound or turn the lights on or even the water because someone on 
the outside might notice something and tell the authorities. But it 
was even worse after we were caught. If I had my diary with me 
when we were taken away, maybe I could have written about what 
it was like in the camps. But of course I couldn't because I left the 
diary in the Annex. 

JUDITH 

I've read about some of what happened to you in the camps. People 
who saw you there and managed to survive told the story. I'm so 
sorry. . . 



88 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ANNE 
You shouldn't be sorry. It wasn't your fault. 

JUDITH 

It makes me feel guilty that I survived the war and you didn't. Did 
you ever hear of "survivor's guilt"? 

ANNE 
No. What is it? 

JUDITH 

I think the concept may be relatively new, but the phenomenon 
must be as old as mankind. It means we feel guilty that we are still 
alive when someone close to us dies. 

ANNE 
You really shouldn't feel guilty when you have done nothing 
wrong. 

JUDITH 

Maybe one of the reasons I feel guilty is that you and I were born 
the same year and just because your father decided to stay in 
Europe and mine emigrated to Israel - actually, it was then called 
"Palestine" - we had such a different fate. While you died, I live. 

ANNE 
How fickle fate is! Don't you agree? So much depends on so little! 
A split second decision and the fate of human beings is sealed. 

JUDITH 

Yes. 

ANNE 
I never had a chance. . . 



89 



JUDITH AND ANNE 

JUDITH 

But you've made a priceless contribution to world understanding 
through your diary. 

ANNE 
And now you have tried through your art to make sure I'm not 
forgotten!? 

JUDITH 

You don't need my help. You will never be forgotten. 

ANNE 
So why have you created art about me? And so much of it! It must 
have taken years out of your life! 

JUDITH 

It did. But I felt compelled to do it. 

ANNE 
But why? 

JUDITH 

I'm not sure. I've been trying to figure it out myself. It has 
something to do with the fact that I lost my only sibling, my 
brother, Saul. He was just a year older than me. We were very 
close. And then, in 1948, while he was studying law in London 
and, as a student, was exempt from military service, he volunteered 
to return to Israel and fight in the Israeli War of Independence. 
Maybe you didn't hear about it, but Israel, which had just declared 
itself to be an independent state - about two thousand years after it 
was destroyed by the Romans - was attacked by its Arab neighbors. 
My brother was killed on the Egyptian front, near Gaza. He was 
only twenty-one years old when he was killed. 

ANNE 
How sad! So it seems your father's decision to emigrate from 
Europe to Israel didn't spare you from war. 



90 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

I guess not. But at least we in Israel had the opportunity to fight 
back and defend ourselves. 

ANNE 
We didn't. We were led like sheep to the slaughter. 

JUDITH 

Somehow, creating art helped to ease my pain. That was especially 
true when I began creating art about the Holocaust. You'd think 
that creating art about the Holocaust would have plunged me into 
an even deeper depression than I was already in due to Saul's 
death. But somehow, dealing with all that human suffering had the 
opposite effect. It gave me some relief. 

ANNE 
Maybe you felt you were doing something meaningful with your 
art, saying something important about the human condition. 

JUDITH 

Maybe that was it. I created many works about the Holocaust. I 
painted scenes expressing the horror of it all, the way people were 
dehumanized. I could imagine myself there, in Europe, among the 
masses of people being herded onto cattle cars on their way to the 
camps. I worked day and night, creating one artwork after another, 
always searching for an image that would relieve me of the pain I 
felt over Saul's death. 

ANNE 
And did you find that image? 

JUDITH 

Somehow, when I began creating artworks about you, I felt more 
at peace, like I had finally found an image that expressed what was 
deep in my heart. So I created works using your face as the central 
image of my art. I'm not sure I can explain it. It's something that I 
felt driven to do. 



91 



JUDITH AND ANNE 
ANNE 

I can see you've done a lot of pictures about me. 

JUDITH 

Maybe it's because you and I were the same age and when I saw 
your photographs, I thought you looked a lot the way I did. Sort of 
like we were. . . 



Sisters? 



Yes, sisters. 



Twin sisters? 



Yes, twins. 



ANNE 



JUDITH 



ANNE 



JUDITH 



ANNE 
Maybe that explains all these pictures you painted showing your 
face merged with mine, half yours and half mine, seamlessly 
joined, as if we were one. 

JUDITH 

That makes sense. I felt we were one. . . 

ANNE 
So when you lost a brother, you gained a sister. . . 

JUDITH 

Maybe that's it. 

ANNE 
What else could it be? 



92 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

I don't really know. Maybe I felt guilty about surviving my brother, 
too, and then, by merging myself with you. . . 

ANNE 
You could join the dead and be relieved of your survivor's guilt. 

ANNE walks up to JUDITH and 
embraces her, then fades away. 
JUDITH bursts into tears. 

The museum gallery is still full 
of guests, chatting, eating and 
drinking. If one of them comes 
over now and asks her why she has 
created all these artworks about 
Anne Frank, will JUDITH finally 
be able to explain? 

A guest approaches JUDITH... 



CURTAIN 



93 



LIBRETTO 

for 

TO BE AN ARTIST 

A Musical Play in Two Acts 



95 



CHARACTERS 



JUDITH 

RACHEL 

VINCENT 

ANNE 

BOB 

AVI 



SAUL 



an elderly artist 

a teenager, Judith's granddaughter 

the ghost of artist Vincent van Gogh 

a teenager, the ghost of Anne Frank 

the ghost of Judith's husband 

the ghost of Judith's father 

the ghost of Judith's brother 



MUSEUM GUESTS 



miscellaneous 



PLACE AND TIME 

ACT ONE: An art studio in a house in a suburb in the U.S A. in 
the 1990s. 

ACT TWO: A gallery in a museum in the U.S A. later in the 
1990s. 

As appropriate throughout, when this musical play is used as a 
screenplay, scenes from World War II, the Holocaust and the Israeli 
War of Independence, as well as Judith Weinshall Liberman's 
artworks, are shown. 



97 



LIST OF SONGS 



ACT ONE 



Page no. 



1. WHAT ARE GRANDMAS FOR? (RACHEL) 

2. HOW STRANGE IS FATE (JUDITH) . 

3. ARTISTS DON'T DIE (VINCENT) 

4. SOLITUDE (JUDITH) . 

5. MAN AND WOMAN (VINCENT) 

6. COLOR IN OUR WORLD (VINCENT) 

7. GETTING ALONG (VINCENT) 

8. WHAT IS AN ARTIST? (JUDITH) . 

9. FLOWERS (VINCENT) 

10. THE PURPOSE OF ART (VINCENT) 

11. SOUL MATE (JUDITH) . 

12. RED, GRAY AND BLACK (JUDITH) . 

13. WHEN AN ARTIST FALLS IN LOVE. .. . (VINCENT) 



103 
105 
108 
111 
112 
116 
120 
123 
126 
132 
134 
139 
146 



ACT TWO 

14. WHO NEEDS ART? (AVI) 152 

15. EASILY SHAKEN (JUDITH) .... 154 

16. TAKE CARE, MY DARLING (BOB) 159 

17. DYING YOUNG (ANNE) 165 

18. GUILT AND INNOCENCE (ANNE) 169 

19. LIKE SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER.... (ANNE) 172 

20. MY GRANDMA'S AN ARTIST (RACHEL) ... 179 



99 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ACT ONE 



The curtain rises to reveal a 
spacious art studio. There is 
a door at stage right, upstage, 
facing the audience, with a wall- 
mounted telephone nearby. A large 
window along the adjacent wall 
has an opaque drape, which is 
drawn closed, so no light comes 
in through the window. The closed 
drape suggests isolation from 
the outside world. Groupings 
of paintings are leaning against 
the walls, face down. There is a 
low table near the wall, on which 
are piled some folded fabrics. 
On one wall, barely visible, is a 
photographic portrait of Anne 
Frank. The room is dimly lit except 
for a small work area which is 
illuminated by a bright fluorescent 
fixture. The work area is dominated 
by a large table, which is cluttered 
with brushes, paint tubes, palettes, 
jars containing water, paper towels 
etc. Near the table, close to stage 
front and standing perpendicular 
to the table 's edge, is an easel with 
a painting on stretched canvas 
propped on it. In front of the easel, 
facing the painting, is a stool, 
on which the artist, JUDITH, is 
seated. .She is dressed in black and 
is painting. 



101 



JBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIS1 



The phone rings. JUDITH ignores 
the ringing and continues painting 
The phone keeps on ringing 
Reluctantly, JUDITH drops her 
brush into a water jar and gets up 
from her stool She walks over to 
the phone and picks up the receiver 



Yes? 



JUDITH 

(Speaking into the receiver) 



RACHEL 

(Offstage) 



Hi, Grandma! 



JUDITH 

Oh, hello, Rachel! No school? 

RACHEL 

(Offstage) 
Wasn't feeling well. All better now. Can you come pick me up? 
Maybe we can go to a movie or something. 

JUDITH 

No, Sweetheart. Not today. 

RACHEL 

(Offstage) 
Please, Grandma! 

JUDITH 

I wish I could, but I just can't. I have too much work to do. 

RACHEL 

(Offstage) 
Please! 



102 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

You know I would if I could. Maybe some other day. 

RACHEL 

(Offstage, bursts into tears) 
What are grandmas for 
If grandkids like me 
They choose to ignore? 

When moms are working 
Or busy with chores 
And dads are away 
While fighting some wars 

And children are left 
By themselves all alone 
With no-one to be with 
As if they were grown, 

They turn to their grandmas 
And what do they find? 
A grandma too busy 
With her own daily grind 

Of painting and painting 
And painting some more. 
What does the world need 
All those pictures for? 

Aren't grandmas supposed 
To heed grandkids' calls? 
Aren't kids more important 
Than pictures on walls? 

What are grandmas for 
If grandkids like me 
They choose to ignore? 



103 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

I love you, Rachel. But I really have to go. 'Bye! 

JUDITH hesitates, then hangs up 
the phone, walks back to her seat, 
sits down, picks up her brush and 
resumes painting. She paints for a 
while. 

JUDITH 

(Drops her brush into the water jar and speaks to the audience) 
I am old now, but my passion for creating art has remained 
constant through all these many years. If you ask me what my 
earliest memory is of wanting to be an artist, I think I can honestly 
say that it all began when I was a little girl, even younger than 
Rachel, maybe six or seven years old. 

My mother insisted that my brother, Saul, who was about a year 
older than me, and I spend our summer away from home, at a boarding 
camp. I remember that one day, while at camp, I received a postcard 
from my nanny, Raya. I guess she missed me as much as I missed her, 
so she sent me a postcard. The postcard had a picture of boats on it. I 
found the picture breathtaking. I remember studying it carefully before 
I even read what Raya said on the back side. The picture showed some 
boats on a sandy beach. The boats were all different colors. The one in 
front was red. Just beyond it was a green boat. Beyond these two were 
a couple of lavender-blue boats. The boats stood out strikingly against 
the yellow-orange sand and the light blue sky. 

I knew right away that the picture was not a photograph but 
rather a painting created by some artist. The colors looked nothing 
like those at any beach I had ever seen, and I knew a lot about 
beach scenes even then, since I grew up in Haifa, Israel, a city on 
the Mediterranean coast, and had often been taken to the beach. 
So as I looked at the postcard, I wondered who the artist was who 
had painted that beautiful picture. I turned to the back of the card 
to look for the artist's name. His name was Vincent van Gogh. The 
name sounded strange and wonderful. Vincent van Gogh. I believe 
the title of the painting was given as Fishing Boats on the Beach. 



104 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

As I turned the postcard to its front again and continued 
studying the picture, I remember wondering whether the artist - 
this Vincent - painted the boats the colors he did because the boats 
he saw on a beach were really those colors or whether he made up 
the colors as he painted because he liked these colors, especially 
when they were combined with the yellow-orange sand and the 
blue sky. For years I wished that I could meet this Vincent and ask 
him the question that I wanted the answer to. 

It's strange how some things that happened to you even at such 
an early age stay with you. I have often asked myself whether 
seeing that picture was what inspired me to eventually become an 
artist and what my life would have been like if my nanny, Raya, 
never sent me that beautiful postcard. 

JUDITH 
How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 
Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 

When I was a child, 
Could I ever know 
That some day my fate 
Would lead me to go 

To a land of enchantment, 
Of color and form 
And expression of feelings 
In the midst of a storm? 

How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 



105 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 



Was it a postcard 
That sealed in my fate? 
A glimpse of bright color 
That made me create 

All that I've done 
And all I still do 
To tell this world 
What is deeply true? 

How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 
Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 



JUDITH sits down on her seat, 
picks up her brush and resumes 
painting. There is a knock on the 
door JUDITH is oblivious to the 
knocking and continues painting. 
There is another knock on the door, 
this one louder. JUDITH, annoyed 
at the interruption, glances at the 
door but continues painting. The 
knocking on the door becomes 
louder and more persistent. 
JUDITH sighs, reluctantly drops 



106 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

her brush into the water jar, 
gets off her stool and walks to 
the door. She unlocks the door 
and opens it slightly, then peeks 
out, shading her eyes against the 
bright sunlight. The door swings 
open, almost knocking JUDITH 
over. VINCENT is standing in the 
doorway. He is in his mid-thirties. 
JUDITH recognizes him at once 
and is startled to see him since he 
has been dead for over a century. 

JUDITH 

(Muttering to herself) 
Vincent van Gogh?! How can that be? 

VINCENT 

(Extends his hand through the doorway) 
Just call me "Vincent," please. 

JUDITH 

(Hesitantly extends her hand to shake his) 
My name is "Judith." 

VINCENT pushes JUDITH aside 
and walks in. JUDITH recovers 
and hesitantly closes the door 
behind him. 

JUDITH 

(Muttering to herself) 
Am I just imagining things? 

VINCENT 

No, no! I assure you, I'm really here! 



107 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

But you've been dead for over a hundred years! I remember the 
story well. Dead of a bullet to the abdomen, a suicide. . . 

VINCENT 

That's what they said. But as you know, artists live forever. 

VINCENT 
Artists don't die. 
Through their works 
They live on. 

They speak to mankind 
Long after 
They're gone. 

Sometimes they speak louder 
As time 
Passes by. 

Sometimes what they said 
Makes more sense 
If they die. 

But artists live on, 
Unlike all those 
Plain folk 

Who go through 
Their lives simply 
Carrying the yoke 

Of subsistence, existence, 

Resistance 

And more, 



108 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



And spend all their time 

Unaware 

What's in store 

And never leave 

Anything 

After they're gone 

Except for sad memories 
Of a life 
That was born 

And maybe possessions 
That don't mean 
A thing 

As compared to the glory 
That true art 
Will bring. 



Artists don't die. 
Through their works 
They live on. 

They speak to mankind 
Long after 
They're gone. 



VINCENT glances around, then 
walks briskly to the window. With a 
strong, sweeping motion, he draws 
the curtain aside. The studio is 
flooded with sunlight. 

VINCENT 



There! 



109 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

Please. . . 

VINCENT 

Now, that's much better, isn't it? 

JUDITH 

(Walks to the window and draws the curtain closed) 
Sorry, but I much prefer to keep the curtain closed. I don't really 
like the sunlight. And I don't want anyone peering in through the 
window. I relish my privacy. 

VINCENT 

(Walks to the window and again draws the curtain aside) 
You cannot paint if you keep yourself in the dark. 

JUDITH 

(Sighing in resignation) 
Sorry about the mess. I wasn't expecting anyone. I rarely do. 

VINCENT 

That is exactly why I came. 

JUDITH 

What do you mean? 

VINCENT 

I came to save you. 

JUDITH 

Save me? From whom? From what? 

VINCENT 

From yourself. 

JUDITH 

From myself? You're kidding! Why would I need saving? 



no 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

You're completely isolated. 

JUDITH 

So? What's wrong with that? I'm an artist and I need solitude to 
create my art. 

VINCENT 

Isolation is not good for anyone, let alone an artist. Artists are 
particularly sensitive people and isolation can lead them to go over 
the edge, as was the case with me. 

JUDITH 

Maybe each of us is different. I cherish my solitude. 

JUDITH 
To be all alone 
Is a marvelous thing, 
With my brain 
And my heart 
And the message they bring. 

And no interruption, 
No voice from outside, 
My own thoughts 
And feelings 
Then solely me guide 

On the road to creation, 

That street without bars, 

That magical 

Pathway 

That leads to the stars. 

I'm content all alone 
Plugged into my dreams 
And my thoughts 

in 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

And my feelings. 

I have no use for teams. 

VINCENT 

People are meant to be social beings. Remember how in Genesis, 
it tells us that first God created Adam and then He created Eve? 
That means that in God's view man should not be alone. And that's 
even truer of a woman. When God created Eve, Adam was already 
around. 

VINCENT 
When God fashioned Eve 
Good old Adam was there 

For it says in the Bible 
Adam's rib was where 

Eve's form first appeared 
In the Great Sculptor's mind 

And woman was formed 
So God could bind 

Man and woman together 
Forever through time 

And make their union 
Truly sublime. 

Which means man and woman 
Cannot live apart. 

They were one flesh, one spirit 
Right from the start. 

It follows that woman 
Cannot alone be. 



112 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

She needs man beside her 
To render her free 

Of daily concerns, 
Deep fears and distress 

And all of life's dangers 
That on her might press. 

Which means man and woman 
Cannot live apart. 

They were one flesh, one spirit 
Right from the start. 

JUDITH 

(Obviously annoyed) 
How did you find me, anyway? 

VINCENT 

I'm sensitive to the plight of lonely artists. It's as if my spiritual 
antenna picks up on them. You may have heard about my own 
isolation. I tried to bond with people but it didn't work, except for 
my brother, Theo, and he was far away. I picked up your signal and 
came to rescue you. 

JUDITH 

If you were tuned into me, as you say, does that mean you know 
everything about me? About my life? About my art? 

VINCENT 

Oh, no! Of course not! Nothing of the sort! What do you think I 
am? God? I just know that you're a lonely artist. That's enough to 
trigger the signal for me to come and save you. 

JUDITH 

But I'm perfectly fine. . 

113 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

VINCENT 

(Walks to the easel and studies JUDITH'S painting) 
Boats! One of my favorite subjects! 

JUDITH 

I know. {Pause) Actually. I've wanted to ask you. . . 

VINCENT 

You have a good sense of color. But you should really paint 
outdoors, not like this, in a studio. 

JUDITH 

I'm afraid I'm a studio painter. I paint what's inside me. My 
knowledge. My memories. My imagination. My feelings. By the 
way, I've always wanted to ask you. . . 

VINCENT 

It's not good for you to be alone. 

JUDITH 

... about your painting Fishing Boats on the Beach, 

VINCENT 

Oh, you're familiar with it? 

JUDITH 

Yes, actually. . . 

VINCENT 

Of all the boat paintings I did, that was my favorite. 

JUDITH 

I first saw it reproduced on a postcard that my nanny sent me when 
I was away at camp. I was just a little girl but I was captivated by 
the colors you used. I remember wondering. . . 



114 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

Glad to hear one of my paintings appealed to you. Do you realize 
that I sold only a single painting in my whole life? I painted 
hundreds, but nobody seemed to like what I was doing, except, of 
course, my brother, Theo. 

JUDITH 

I remember reading about him. He managed an art gallery in Paris, 
right? 

VINCENT 

Yes, a very fine art gallery. I sent each painting to him as I 
completed it so he could sell it. But nobody wanted to buy my 
paintings. (Pause.) It's good to know you liked something I did. 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes! It was the first of your paintings that I ever saw, but not 
the last. In fact, I've seen a lot of artworks since I first saw yours, 
but you've always been my favorite artist. I especially admire your 
use of color. 

VINCENT 

That is good to know. 

JUDITH 

Now, in that painting of Fishing Boats on the Beach, I wondered, 
as soon as I saw it, whether the boats you painted were really those 
colors or whether you made up that color combination. The red and 
green and lavender-blue of the boats were so striking against the 
yellow-orange of the sand and the blue sky. 

VINCENT 

It's quite unusual for someone so young to wonder about such a 
profound matter. The question of imitating reality versus recreating 
it goes to the very core of art. How old did you say you were when 
you first asked the question? 



115 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

I was six or seven. 

VINCENT 

Amazing! Sounds like you were destined to be an artist even then. 

JUDITH 

So what is the answer? 

VINCENT 

I tended to make up my own color schemes, or at least to exaggerate 
the colors I saw. I wanted to express my feelings through my 
paintings, and color seemed to be the natural way for me to do so. 

VINCENT 
Color in our world 
Is everything. 
Can you imagine a world 
Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 

Can you fathom a sky 
That is always dull gray, 
Never blue, never bright, 
Never happy and gay? 

Can you picture a mountain 
That's nothing but black, 
Never covered with trees, 
Never showing a track? 

Can you then see a valley 
With a stream running through 



116 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Flays and a Libretto 

And the valley's not green 
And the stream is not blue 

But gray everywhere 
Through the valley and then 
Through the stream and the mountain 
And the sky gray again? 

Color in our world 

Is everything. 

Can you imagine a world 

Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 

Just imagine a beach scene 
With boats of great hue 
And the sand so yellow 
And the sea so blue, 

But then by some curse 
The whole scene becomes gray, 
The sea and the sand 
And the boats held at bay. 

But the worst thing of all, 
If no color we had, 
Would be flowers that bloom 
And yet look as if dead. 

Think of sunflowers glowing 
With their bright golden crown. 
Think of them now 
If in grayness they drown. 



117 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

Color in our world 

Is everything. 

Can you imagine a world 

Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 

JUDITH 

For me, too, color is the surest way to self expression. 

VINCENT 

Yet I still made a point of painting outdoors rather than in a studio. 

JUDITH 

But why, if you made things up anyway? 

VINCENT 

Being outdoors inspired me greatly even if I didn't copy what I 
saw. Just being out there made me feel like I was part of God's 
creation. It made me want to sing a hymn to God, so to speak, 
which is what I tried to do through my art. 

JUDITH 

I read that you were quite religious when you were young, and that 
before you became an artist, you wanted to be a preacher. 

VINCENT 

True, I did. I wanted to be a minister, like my father. But I failed at 
it. One of the many failures of my life. 

JUDITH 

Failures? Perhaps it was a stepping stone on your way to finding 
yourself and your true voice, to discovering that you were an artist. 



118 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

Perhaps. (Pause.) But I didn't really come here to talk about myself. 

JUDITH 

I still don't understand why you came. 

VINCENT 

I already told you. To help you. I was concerned. 

JUDITH 

You shouldn't have been. 

VINCENT 

Your isolation. . . 

JUDITH 

It's self-imposed. I don't mind being alone. Actually, I rather like 
it. It gives me time to sort out my own thoughts and feelings and 
enables me to express what's inside me. 

VINCENT 

Man was not meant to be alone. That is true of woman, too. 

JUDITH 

(Tries to change the subject by pointing to the painting on her easel) 
Actually, this boat painting is part of a series. (Points to a group of 
paintings leaning against the wall) I always work in series. It seems 
I can't exhaust a subject by simply painting a single painting about it. 

VINCENT walks over to one of 
the groupings of paintings leaning 
against the wall and turns some of 
the paintings around. 

VINCENT 

I did the same. But I did my work outdoors. I sought out people. If I 
was alone, it was not because I wanted to be. It was despite myself. 



119 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

I heard that you tried to establish an artists' colony. I know the 
story about you and Gauguin. Your ear. . . 

VINCENT 

Unfortunately, I was never good at getting along with people. I 
really don't know why, since my heart was filled with love. I was 
hoping that Paul would stay and we could paint together. 

VINCENT 
I've always loved people, 
Men, women too, 
Whether old or young, 
And infants quite new. 

At one point I thought 
I'd serve mankind, then, 
By preaching and good works 
And sacrifice when 

In the coal mines of Belgium 
I lived without gain 
And breathed in their coal dust 
And suffered great pain 

And gave my possessions 
To those all around, 
My clothes, bed and food 
And whatever I found. 

I tendered my love. 
What more could I do? 
Yet no-one would have it. 
So then it is true 

That I left the coal mines 
And forever withdrew 



120 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



To forget all that pain 
That did clearly ensue. 

What is the way 
To avoid rejection 
And be spared the pain 
Of others' objection? 

What is the secret 
To getting along? 
God knows I've tried 
But I'm doing it wrong. 

It was so I decided 
To try my hand 
At drawing and painting 
That would then me land 

In France where I lived 
The rest of my days 
And drowned my pain 
In my art that was praise 

To God in Heaven, 
Who showed me the way 
To deal with my pain 
And not go astray. 

Yet with people I never 
Could find a way. 
They thought that my paintings 
Were nothing but play. 

Only Theo, my brother, 
Stood by my side. 
Praise be to brothers, 
Who by us abide! 



121 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

What is the way 
To avoid rejection 
And be spared the pain 
Of others' objection? 

What is the secret 
To getting along? 
God knows I've tried 
But I'm doing it wrong. 

JUDITH 

I saw the pain of your separation from Gauguin in some of your 
self portraits. I remember the one with the bandaged ear, after you 
cut your ear. I always found your self portraits quite moving. They 
opened a window into your suffering. 

VINCENT 

Yes, I wasn't interested in a photographic portrayal of myself. I 
used my self portraits to reveal my soul. Did you paint any self 
portraits? 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes. Many. A whole series of them when I first began painting. 
I was trying to understand myself, trying to answer the question 
why I was so committed to my art. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some of 
her SELF PORTRAITS. 

VINCENT 

(Pointing to her signature on one of the paintings) 
Quite impressive. (Pause.) I notice you just signed your paintings 
with your first name, "Judith" - as I did with mine. 

JUDITH 

Yes, it seems more personal, more intimate. But we were talking 
about you and Gauguin. Maybe it wasn't your fault that Gauguin 

122 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

left. Maybe Gauguin was too controlling, and you wouldn't let him 
control you. No artist wants to be controlled. It goes against the 
very essence of an artist's being. Independence. Freedom. 

JUDITH 
What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 

What makes 
Some people 
Never content 

Unless they 

Create 

And even then 

They're not pleased 
Unless they do it 
Again and again? 

What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 

Is it a talent 
That others 
Just never 
Possessed? 

Is it a vision 
With which 
Plain folk 
Aren't blessed? 

Is it a knowledge 
Of what 



123 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 



No others 
Can see? 

Is it an insight 
Into what 
Life's mysteries 
Might be? 



What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 



Is it a skill 
One acquires 
Through hard work 
And toil? 

Or a practice 
One goes through 
While one burns 
Midnight oil? 

Is it learning 
Of steps 
To perform 
The job right? 

Or memorizing 
Some tasks 
So your art 
Attains height? 



What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 



124 



ON BKING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

It's fire in the chest. 
It's shortness of breath. 
If we couldn't create 
We'd be wishing for death. 

It's love beyond love. 
It's faith beyond faith. 
If we couldn't create 
We'd be living a death. 

VINCENT 

You're right. As for Paul, I really don't know who was at fault, Paul 
or I. But right now it doesn't matter. The fact that I failed to bond 
with people doesn't mean you shouldn't try. As I said, artists are 
particularly sensitive. Isolation can easily lead them to catastrophe. 
I am concerned that you're too isolated for your own good. 

JUDITH 

With all due respect, I'm perfectly content being alone and having 
a chance to paint and express my thoughts and feelings. 

VINCENT 

What have you painted other than boats and self portraits? I see 
a lot of paintings along the walls. I myself found flowers to be a 
particularly good subject to paint. Very uplifting. I don't know if 
you heard about my flower paintings. 

JUDITH 

Oh, yes! I love your flower paintings. Your sunflowers were quite 
inspirational for me. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest series I 
did was of flowers. 



Show me. 



VINCENT 



JUDITH walks to the wall, where a 
bunch of canvases are leaning face 



125 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

down, and turns a couple of the 
canvases around. They are part of 
her FLOWERS series. 

VINCENT 

Lovely. But very sad. I notice you present each flower by itself, in 
a separate painting, like a portrait. These flower paintings reflect 
your isolation, perhaps your own sadness. Flowers should express 
happiness, lift up the spirit. 

JUDITH 

I know you did that with your flower paintings, and I admire them, 
but maybe that's why there are different artists. We can't all say the 
same thing even if our subject matter is the same. 

VINCENT 

Perhaps not. But flowers?! 

VINCENT 
When I was a boy 
In Holland 
And saw flowers 
In bloom everywhere, 

I would sit among them 
For hours 
And do little more 
Than just stare. 

I would ask myself 
Some questions 
As I stared 
At the flowers around, 

About God and man 
And Creation, 



126 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



And the purpose 
Of these I found. 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 

Do you know 

Why God 

Made them grow? 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 

I will tell you 
So you'll 
Know. 

With the vast universe 
And this big noisy world 
God created those treasures 
That nature unfurled, 

Those lovely small beings, 
That elegant fare, 
These fragrant bright gems 
That pop up everywhere: 

Roses, carnations, 
Calla lilies, too. 
Pansies and freesias 
And delphiniums blue 

And hyacinths and lilacs 
And others so bright 



127 



That we n ish wc could see them 
Even at night. 

What is 
The reason 
For §sm ers? 

Do you know 
Wky God 

Made them grow? 

What is 

The reason 
For flowers? 

I \a ill tell you 
So you'll 
Know. 

To gladden the heart 
Of an artist. 
To make us bless God 
For this life. 

To celebrate beauty 
And color 
And live ever more 
Without strife. 

JUDITH 
C ; :.v ; :^:-:r the subject.) 
I did a series of interiors. Would vou like to see them? 



.JUDITH turns a couple of the 
canxases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
MYSTIC INTERIORS series. 






I »\ BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

Powerful but sad. 

JUDITH 

I painted a mysterious light shining in each of the paintings, and 
surrounded the mysterious light with lots of dark, so the light 
would stand out even more. I was asking a question about the 
greatest mystery of life. Is there a God after all? 

VINCENT 

An important question. And what did you conclude? 

JUDITH 

I wasn't sure I had the answer then. I simply asked the question. 

VINCENT 

That is certainly a worthwhile goal for art to pursue. To ask the 
important questions. But we must give answers. . . 

JUDITH 

Actually. I also asked some important questions in my very first 
series, that of MOTHER AND CHILD. Questions about the nature 
of the mother-child relationship. I had just become a mother, and 
reflected about the complex relationship between mother and child. 
which is sometimes positive and. at other times, destructive. 

JUDITH turns some of the 
canvases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
MOTHER AXD CHILD series. 

VINCENT 

I heard that when a woman becomes a mother, she thinks about her 
relationship with her own mother. Did you have a good relationship 
with vours? 



129 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

No. My mother was quite explosive. I never knew what would set 
her off. She would suddenly erupt and was physically abusive to 
my brother and to me. I think she had a good heart but. . . 

VINCENT 

(Takes JUDITH in his arms) 
Perhaps that explains your isolation. You don't trust people. You're 
afraid they'll hurt you, as your mother did. 

JUDITH 

(Extricates herself from VINCENT'S embrace) 
Perhaps. I had a wonderful father, though. He was just the opposite 
of my mother, calm and thoughtful and very kind. I felt very close 
to him. 

VINCENT 

You were blessed. My own relationship with my father was not the 
best. He was quite disappointed that I became an artist. 

JUDITH 

My father was, too, when I became an artist. But that's another 
story. (Showing VINCENT some o/her MOTHER AND CHILD 
paintings.) I used earth tones to express the elemental relationship 
between mother and child. I had a teacher who thought I should use 
bright colors in this series. I left him because he tried to force me 
to do things his way. 

VINCENT 

I used earth tones myself in some of my early works. 

JUDITH 

I know. The Miners. The Potato Eaters. These paintings of yours 
are so expressive, even without the use of pure colors! 

VINCENT 

My palette brightened with time, as I found happier subjects to paint. 

130 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Mine did not, except intermittently. I guess my development went 
in the opposite direction to yours. Actually, I went on to paint about 
more serious subjects. Like war. . . 



Like what?! 



Like war. 



War? You? 



VINCENT 



JUDITH 



VINCENT 



JUDITH 

Why not? Do you think that only men feel the pain of war? 

VINCENT 

Frankly, I never thought of it one way or the other. I never thought 
of war at all. 

JUDITH 

My only sibling, my brother, Saul, was killed in war and he was 
only twenty-one when he fell. He was only a year older than me. I 
still feel the pain of his death. 

VINCENT 

My older brother died, too. But I never knew him. He died in 
infancy, before I was even born. His name was "Vincent" and my 
parents decided to call me by his name in his memory. My parents 
never got over his death. They viewed me as a replacement for their 
dead first-born. 

JUDITH 

My parents did the same to me when my brother was killed. I 
was to replace him. He was studying law when he volunteered to 
fight for Israel's independence and lost his life. I had to study law 

131 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

so I could take his place. But eventually I found my way to art, 
although the guilt of not following in my brother's footsteps never 
left me. 

VINCENT 

I am truly sorry to hear that. But you must force yourself to think 
of happier things. 

VINCENT 
What is the purpose 
Of art? Can you tell? 

Why did God make 

You and me feel compelled 

To wake up each morning 
And welcome the day 

And through our efforts 
Then honestly say 

What we have on our mind 
And feel in our heart 

And do it again 

The next day and restart 

Again and again 
Every day without end 

And never to others 
Our vision we bend? 

Through our art 
We bless God, 
The Creator of all. 



132 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Without God 
There'd be nothing, 
No art, no art's call. 

Without God 

You and I 

Would not even be. 

Through our art 
We bless God, 
Both you and me. 

JUDITH 

I painted a whole series about the Vietnam War. I did it while 
that war was raging. But while I was painting about Vietnam, my 
thoughts were more universal, about war in general. Wounded 
soldiers. And dead ones. And the women left behind to bury the 
dead and grieve over them. 

JUDITH turns some of the 
canvases leaning against the wall 
around. They are part of her 
VIETNAM series. 

VINCENT 

Very moving. But you should try to think of happier things. 

JUDITH 

Easier said than done. Not long after I painted my Vietnam series, 
my husband became ill. 

VINCENT 

Sorry to hear that. 

JUDITH 

First he had a heart attack and then a stroke, and he could no longer 
play the piano because of his stroke and that plunged him into a 

133 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

deep depression. He was ill for ten years, during which he suffered 
a second stroke. And then he died. 

VINCENT 

So sorry to hear that. But at least you had someone. How long were 
you with him? 



JUDITH 



Over thirty years. 



VINCENT 

That is quite an accomplishment in itself. (Pause.) Perhaps you can 
tell me the secret. 



He was my soul mate. 



Let me tell you 
What I've known 
As an old widow 
Left alone. 

When you are old 
And your mate's gone, 
The saddest part 
When you're alone 

Is not that you 
Cannot now speak 
To your dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
Your silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No -one knows how. 



JUDITH 



JUDITH 



134 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Your soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear your silence 
And would have known. 



I've lived way past 
My golden years. 
My heart is filled 
With silent tears. 

Now that I'm old 
And my mate's gone, 
The saddest part 
When I'm alone 

Is not that I 
Cannot now speak 
To my dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
My silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No -one knows how. 



My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 



Some day I'll join him 
Where we're free 
And once again 
We'll soul mates be. 

I will be quiet, 
Never speak, 



135 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

Though times become 
So very bleak. 

I will stay mum. 
My silence, though, 
My mate will hear 
And he will know. 

My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 

VINCENT 

I was never able to maintain a relationship with a woman. I was a 
failure at love as in so many other aspects of my life. 

JUDITH 

You were the greatest artist! 

VINCENT 

I failed completely in my relationships with women. I first fell 
in love with my landlady's daughter when I was very young and 
living in England while managing my uncle's art gallery. I loved 
her but she rejected me and married someone else. One of the early 
failures of my life. 

JUDITH 

That must have broken your heart! 

VINCENT 

It did. That's when I decided to become a minister, to escape the 
pain by doing some good, by serving others. But I failed at that, 
too. 

JUDITH 

Maybe you just weren't cut out to be a minister. 



136 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 

And then I fell in love with my cousin. She was beautiful. Actually, 
a widow with a child. But she, too, rejected me. She wouldn't even 
agree to see me. It hurt for many years. It still does. 

JUDITH 

Sorry about that! 

VINCENT 

And there was my doctor's daughter. I adored her. But she 
would have nothing to do with me. Even her father, who was a 
psychologist, couldn't explain it. 

JUDITH 

How sad! 

VINCENT 

Actually, the only woman who agreed to have a relationship with 
me was a poor street walker, a prostitute, with a child. She was 
pregnant when I met her. But even she left me before too long. She 
preferred being a street walker to being with me. 

JUDITH 

How terrible! I think I read about some of these things. But you 
really shouldn't take them personally. 

VINCENT 

How can I not? 

JUDITH 

Maybe the particular women you were attracted to were not 
right for you. Maybe you simply never met a woman who could 
appreciate you. You never met your soul mate. 

VINCENT 

It made me feel like a failure. My heart was filled with love, and 
yet nobody would have me. 

137 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

Just try to look on the bright side. You had all that extra time and 
pent up energy to paint! 

VINCENT 

Man cannot live alone. You must have been quite lonesome when 
your husband died. 

JUDITH 

I drowned my sorrow in my work. I began painting about the 
Holocaust. 

VINCENT 

And what is that? 

JUDITH 

Aren't you familiar with the history of the twentieth century? The 
two world wars? 

VINCENT 

No. No, I left beforehand. Besides, I never was much interested in 
history. The life around me was sufficient to keep me busy. The 
beautiful world that God created... 

JUDITH 

If you had lived in the twentieth century, you would have found 
it more appropriate to devote your art to expressing your feelings 
about the world that man rather than God created. 

VINCENT 

I doubt it. I probably would have continued celebrating God and 
His creation. 

JUDITH 

No. Not with your sensitivity. If you had seen the twentieth 
century, with its never-ending violence and suffering, you would 
have felt compelled to speak about it through your art. How can 



138 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

an artist sit idly by while the world is burning all around? Doesn't 
an artist have an obligation to protest the devastation which man 
has wrought? The Holocaust was among the worst manifestations 
of man's inhumanity to man. One leader, Hitler, was intent on 
destroying the whole Jewish people and he had many willing 
followers. They were called "Nazis." Hitler and his henchmen 
proceeded to systematically kill six million of us in just a few short 
years. That's what is called "The Holocaust." That's what I've been 
creating art about. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her HOLOCAUST PAINTINGS, 
first some scenes, then some maps. 

VINCENT 

I see you used a limited palette of red and gray and black. 

JUDITH 
What color was 
The Holocaust? 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 

First by red 
For blood 
And fire. 
Red for 
The blood 
Of innocents. 



139 



BRErrOforTOBEANARTiS': 



Red for 

The fire 

That burned 

So many, 

Old and young, 

Behind a barbed fence. 



What color was 
The Holocaust? 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 



Gray. Gray 

For that 

State of being 

Between 

Life 

And death. 

Gray for 
The state 
Of despair, 
Of losing hope 
And losing faith 
And losing breath. 



What color was 
The Holocaust? 



140 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 



Yes, black 
For the absence 
That prevailed. 
Black for 
The absence 
Of love. 

Black for 

The lack 

Of compassion, 

The lack 

Of God's mercy 

From above. 

Black for 
The darkness 
Of man's soul 
As human beings 
Were gassed 
And burned 

By fellow 
Human 
Beings 
And into 
Black smoke 
Were turned. 



141 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

INCENT 

You mustn't paint about such terrible things! Art is meant to serve 
beauty, to lift up man's spirit, to celebrate God! 

JUDITH 

Was it God who created or even allowed man's inhumanity to man? 
War? The Holocaust? And if there is a God, where was He in the 
Holocaust while six million people perished? 

VINCENT 

Some questions cannot be answered. We have to accept God's 
existence and His justice on faith. I always did. 

JUDITH 

Was it God who made you ill and allowed you - the world's 
greatest artist - to die at such a young age and deprive the world of 
more of your work? Was it God who caused the death of your older 
brother in infancy, and the death of mine in war? If so, why did 
God do that and subject you and me to a life of pain? 

VINCENT 

Maybe that's what made us into such committed artists, feeling 
that we had to make up for our dead sibling by living a life for two. 

JUDITH 

Maybe. It's true that I have always felt that through my art I had to 
make up for what the world lost when my brother was killed, but. . . 

VINCENT 

(Noticing the Anne Frank photograph on the wall and pointing to it.) 
And who is that? Your sister? 

JUDITH 

Not really. I didn't have a sister, only a brother. But I do feel very 
close to her. 



142 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

VINCENT 



Who is she? 



JUDITH 

Her name was "Anne," "Anne Frank." She was a Jewish girl, one 
of the victims of the Holocaust. Some of my Holocaust works are 
devoted to her. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her HOLOCAUST PAINTINGS 
about Anne Frank. 

VINCENT 

Quite moving. But why did you paint about her specifically if, as 
you told me, six million Jews were killed? 

JUDITH 

For one thing, she was a child in the Holocaust, and therefore 
represents the million-and-a-half children who were killed then. 
And since she has been famous ever since her diary was published 
after the war, I thought I could focus on her in some of my 
artworks and make the Holocaust seem more personal, more real, 
to people than an abstraction like "six million" could. 

VINCENT 

That makes sense. How old was she when she died? 

JUDITH 

A teenager. Not yet sixteen. Just a bit older than my granddaughter, 
Rachel. Actually she was born the same year I was, and I have long 
felt that if I hadn't been so lucky as to be in Israel during the war, 
I would have shared her fate. Luckily the Nazis never made it to 
Israel or we would all have been killed, too. 

VINCENT 

How terrible! How lucky you were spared! Where did this Anne 
Frank live? 



143 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

Actually, in your homeland. In Holland. 

VINCENT 

In Holland? Holland was always such a hospitable country and its 
people such hospitable people! 

JUDITH 

Well, the Nazis took Holland over. Anne Frank's family, which 
was from Germany, sought refuge in Holland when Hitler came to 
power in Germany. But a few years later, Hitler conquered Holland, 
as he did a large portion of Europe, and the fate of Anne Frank and 
her family was sealed. They managed to hide for a while, and to 
survive in Amsterdam with the help of some kind Dutch people, 
but eventually Anne and her family were caught and shipped to 
their death. Only Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived. He is the one 
who brought Anne's story to light by publishing her diary. 

VINCENT 

I would have liked to read it. How sad for such a young girl to die! 

JUDITH 

I created not only paintings about her but also some wall hangings. 
You know, works on fabric. Large works that would express, even 
by their size alone, the enormity of the Holocaust. 

JUDITH walks to the low table 
by the wall, where some fabrics 
are folded one on top of the other, 
and spreads some of the works 
on the floor to show VINCENT 
some of her HOLOCAUST WALL 
HANGINGS about Anne Frank. 

VINCENT 

How unusual! Did you paint some of the images on these? 



144 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

Yes, I did, like this large image of Anne Frank in ANNE 
FRANK'S HIDING PLACE. I tried to print it from a block I 
carved but it was too large to work. I used a lot of printing in these 
works, though; not only printing, but also sewing and embroidery 
and beading and applique, crafts as well as painting. We call 
these works "multi-media wall hangings" because many different 
mediums are used in each. 

VINCENT 

How clever! My mother used to sew. These works bring back 
memories of her. And, of course, I am moved by the fact that you 
created so much art about a young Dutch girl. I feel very close to 
you, having seen all this. 

VINCENT takes JUDITH in his 
arms. She breaks free of his grasp. 

JUDITH 

Maybe I should show you another series I did about the Holocaust, 
in addition to the paintings and wall hangings. It's called SELF 
PORTRAITS OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST. In this series I tried to 
express my emotional identification with victims of the Holocaust. 
Many of the works show my identification with Anne Frank. 

JUDITH shows VINCENT some 
of her SELF PORTRAITS OF A 
HOLOCAUST ARTIST works, 
especially those about Anne Frank. 

VINCENT 

This is incredible! How you created a portrait that is a combination 
of yourself and of Miss Frank! You may be isolated here, but it 
seems you have not been alone. 



145 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

I think you understand me better now. I am not alone, ever. When I 
create artworks about Anne Frank, she is very much with me. 

VINCENT 

Maybe you're not alone because you have been blessed with that 
rare quality called "empathy." Strange that I came here to rescue 
you from isolation and found that your solitude actually allows you 
to connect with others, with mankind, with God's creation. 

JUDITH 

There is really no boundary between isolation and union. For an 
artist, isolation can lead to union. 

VINCENT 

(Pause.) 
I've learned so much from you. I am wondering if you would allow 
me to stay. We have so much in common. I will encourage you and 
support you in your art. (Pause.) I love you! 



VINCENT 



When an artist 
Falls in love 
It's a blessing 
From above. 

It's a sign 
God does exist, 
Else mankind 
Would not persist 



In loving others, 
Yes, loving others, 
Always others, 
As themselves. 



146 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



When an artist 
Falls in love 
It's like manna 
From above. 

It's like breathing 
Pure fresh air. 
It's like feeling 
Barely there 



When we love others, 
Yes, love others, 
Always others, 
As ourselves. 



It's like seeing 
Brilliant light. 
It's like music 
Through the night. 

It's like reaching 
For a star. 
It's having God 
Right where you are 



If we love others, 
Yes, love others, 
Always others, 
As ourselves. 



VINCENT takes JUDITH in his 
arms and kisses her on the lips. 
She doesn't resist and they are 
locked in a long embrace. 



147 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

(As if awakening from a dream) 
I really appreciate your visit. I have dreamed of meeting you 
practically all my life. Your visit has given me so much! It even 
makes me wonder if there is a God after all. Who else could have 
sent you to me? But I have to continue with my work. I cannot 
allow myself to be distracted from it by a personal relationship. 

VINCENT 

But you had a long relationship with your late husband. Why can't I 
simply take his place? 

JUDITH 

That was another time. I am much older now and time is getting short. I 
must devote myself fully to creating my art, before my voice is silenced. 
I must do it compulsively, like you did, no matter what the personal cost. 

JUDITH hugs VINCENT, then 
grasps his arm and leads him to 
the door. He tries to resist. 

VINCENT 

Please let me stay. I have finally found my soul mate. 

JUDITH 

Not now. Perhaps another time. 

JUDITH walks VINCENT to the 
door, opens it and guides VINCENT 
out. She waves to VINCENT and 
closes the door behind him. She 
walks to the window and draws the 
window drape closed. Then she 
walks to her stool, sits down, picks 
up her brush and resumes painting. 

CURTAIN 

148 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ACT TWO 



The opening of a museum 
exhibition of JUDITH'S artworks 
about Anne Frank. The title of 
the exhibition, ANNE FRANK 
THROUGH THE EYES OF AN 
ARTIST, is prominently displayed 
at the gallery entrance. Inside 
the gallery, JUDITH'S works are 
exhibited along the long gallery 
walls. The works are varied in 
medium and in size, ranging 
from very large wall hangings to 
very small intimate mixed media 
works. What all the works have in 
common is that the image of Anne 
Frank appears in all of them. 

JUDITH, standing near the 
entrance, greets the guests. She is 
dressed in black and has a serious 
demeanor. RACHEL is standing 
beside her. 

RACHEL 

But Grandma, are you selling all these pictures? You can probably 
get a lot of money. 

JUDITH 

Oh, no, Rachel. They're meant as a gift to the museum. My art is 
not for sale. 

Perplexed, RACHEL moves into 
the gallery. She walks along the 
gallery, looking closely at each 

149 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

artwork, then mingles with the 
guests at the buffet table. 

JUDITH surveys the exhibition and 
remembers all the effort that went 
into creating each of the artworks. 
If one of the guests asked, she 
could explain how the works 
evolved and what they are intended 
to express. 

JUDITH 

(To herself) 
First came ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE, in which Anne's 
image appears behind the floor plan of a part of the building in 
Amsterdam (the "Annex") where Anne and her family hid during 
the Nazi occupation of Holland. In this artwork, I included a 
passage from Anne's diary where Anne describes herself as a 
caged bird. The image of Anne behind the Annex floor plan 
conveys the feeling of entrapment expressed in Anne's diary. I 
then created the artwork titled ANNE FRANK'S AMSTERDAM, 
in which Anne's image appears repeatedly as if trapped in the 
spider-web-like layout of the streets of Amsterdam. There followed 
ANNE FRANK'S JOURNEY and BOX CAR, the first showing 
the long road Anne was forced to travel in her short life, the 
second featuring young Anne's face barely visible through the 
small window of a massive box car on the way to the camps. Other 
artworks about Anne ensued. In a series of SELF PORTRAITS 
and in WITNESS, I superimposed an image of my own eye over 
one of Anne's eyes in an expression of my effort to view life as 
Anne would. The image of a physical merger between Anne and 
me is further expressed in my series called SELF PORTRAITS OF 
A HOLOCAUST ARTIST. Through such a physical merger of my 
own image with that of the Holocaust victim, I express my feeling 
that "There but for the grace of God go I. . . " 



150 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Despite the somber subject of 
the exhibition and the solemn 
demeanor of the artist, the 
atmosphere at the opening is 
festive, as is common at exhibition 
openings. The guests, distinguished 
members of society, are festively 
attired. While here and there 
one of the guests glances at the 
exhibition, the guests mainly 
congregate around the buffet table 
and seem to be more interested 
in the food and drinks than in the 
artworks. 

BOB suddenly appears. He is 
invisible except to JUDITH and to 
the theater audience. 

BOB 

I came because I know you need moral support and I love you. But 
you know my opinion. Dealing with the Holocaust is the last thing 
you should be doing to get over your depression. 

BOB fades away. JUDITH feels 
lonely in the midst of the crowd of 
guests. She looks at the artworks 
on the walls, works she has spent 
years creating, and wonders if it 
was all worthwhile. 

AVI appears. He is invisible except 
to JUDITH and to the theater 
audience. 



151 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

AVI 

You should have listened to me, Judith. You should have returned 
to Israel after you finished your studies in America. Israel is where 
you were born and Israel is where you belong. 

JUDITH 

(Whispering.) 
Please, Father. . . 

AVI 

Our family didn't emigrate from Europe to Israel only to have you 
live in America and be an artist. 

JUDITH 

(Whispering.) 
Father, please . . . 

AVI 

In Israel you could have pursued a more useful occupation than art. 
I provided you with an excellent education, college and graduate 
school and law school, and after all that, you are frittering it all 
away by being an artist. In Israel you could have taken your brother 
Saul's place and made a real contribution. 

AVI 

Who needs art? 

In a world 
So burdened 
With war 
And with hunger 

And with sickness 
And misery 
That take away 
One's thunder, 



152 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretti 

Who needs art? 



In a world 
Where nature 
Just adds to 
Man's grief 

And causes 
Destruction 
Beyond 
Belief, 



Who needs art? 



How can 
A canvas 
All covered 
With paint 

Resolve 

Man's problems? 
It makes me 
Faint 

To see 

My own child 

Can be so 

Naive 

As to think 
That art 
Can man's 
Woes relieve. 



Who needs art? 



153 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

In a world 
So burdened 
With war 
And with hunger 

And with sickness 
And misery 
That take away 
One's thunder, 

Who needs art? 

JUDITH 

Please, Father. Try to understand. I'm an artist. Art is the only 
thing I want to do. Here, in America, I don't feel the pressure to do 
anything else. I don't want the pressure. I don't need the pressure. 

A VI shakes his head from side to 
side and fades away. 

JUDITH 

(To herself) 
Maybe I'm not up to dealing with the Holocaust, especially since 
I was not in Europe during the Holocaust, so I wasn't one of its 
victims and I don't really know what the experience felt like. 
Maybe I shouldn't have tried to tackle the subject of Anne Frank. 
Poor Anne! She was born the same year I was but in Europe rather 
than in Israel, and therefore suffered such a horrible fate while 
I was spared all that. I feel guilty about having created all these 
works about Anne. Maybe I've exploited her image for my own 
purposes. Maybe I should have followed Bob's suggestion and 
continued creating art about other subjects Maybe I should have 
gone back to Israel and forgotten about being an artist. 

JUDITH 
Why is an artist 
So easily shaken? 



154 



ON BH1NG AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Why does a gesture 
So deeply hurt? 

Why do mere words 
Sometimes feel like daggers? 

Why does a silence 
Seem rude and curt? 



Is it that artists 
Are eager to please 

Much more than people 
Who do things with ease? 

Is it that unlike 
Those others out there 

We have something serious 
We need to declare? 

Or is it because 

We artists have bound 

Our hearts, our lives 
To truths we found? 

With our souls in our art 
We therefore expose 

Our very being 
To all of those 

Who glance at our work 
And say something absurd 



155 



[BRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 



Or silent remain 
And not say a word? 

Why is an artist 
So easily shaken? 

Why does a gesture 
So deeply hurt? 

Why do mere words 
Sometimes feel like daggers? 

Why does a silence 
Seem rude and curt? 

One of the guests approaches 
JUDITH. 

GUEST 

I want to congratulate you on the exhibition. But I want to ask you 
a question. I hope you don't take my question the wrong way, but 
why have you created so many works about Anne Frank? 

JUDITH 

(Hesitates) 
Well, the main reason is that the concrete image of Anne serves to 
symbolize the fate of millions, among them the million-and-a-half 
children who perished in the Holocaust. 

GUEST 

(Obviously pleased) 
Oh, I see. That makes sense. 



Smiling, the guest walks back to 
the buffet table. 



156 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

JUDITH 

(Shaking her head from side to side, speaking to herself) 
I'm sure that's not the complete explanation. But I wish I knew 
what is. I've been grappling with the question myself all along. I 
know that the reason I've been so engrossed in creating art about 
Anne is not just because Anne's image could serve as a symbol for 
millions of Holocaust victims. No. That's not the complete answer. 
Anne is not just a symbol for Holocaust victims. To me, she is 
much more than a symbol. But what? 

While the guests are engrossed in 
cheerful chatter among themselves, 
and JUDITH finds herself alone, 
ANNE appears in the gallery. She 
is invisible to all but JUDITH 
and the theater audience. ANNE 
appears to be a young teen, much 
younger than JUDITH although 
they were born the same year. She 
is pale and thin, and is dressed 
in one of those light pinafores 
JUDITH had seen her wearing 
in some of the old photographs. 
JUDITH remembers that she 
herself used to dress in light 
clothing when she was younger. 
Now JUDITH seldom wears 
anything but black. 

JUDITH 

(Surprised to see ANNE, who has been dead for decades) 
Oh! 

ANNE 
(Studying the artworks on the walls) 
Why did you do all this? 



157 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

I don't really know. I just felt I had to. 

ANNE shakes her head from side 
to side, then fades away. AVI 
reappears. He is invisible except to 
JUDITH and to the theater audience. 

AVI 

I'm worried about you, Judith. Here you are, immersed in the 
Holocaust. Our family was spared from the Holocaust because 
of my foresight and decision to leave Europe and settle in Israel 
back in 1920, long before Hitler came to power. Jewish history 
taught me early on that the Jewish people need a country of their 
own, where they can live as a free nation and defend themselves, 
and what better homeland could there be than Israel, our ancestral 
home dating back to the time of Abraham four thousand years ago? 
It's true that sometimes Israel is involved in war, and therefore 
people get killed. And sometimes one of those killed is someone 
close to us. But the best way to overcome our grief over their death 
is to follow in their footsteps and accomplish what they would 
have if they had lived. That is why I urged you to study law, so you 
could take Saul's place after he was killed. If you return to Israel 
and follow the path that Saul would have taken, it will help you 
better deal with your grief over Saul's death than living in America 
and creating art about the Holocaust. 

JUDITH 

I wish you were still proud of me, Father, the way you used to be. 
Apparently you can't see art as a serious pursuit, as something 
through which an artist can contribute to the betterment of society. 
But I had to create art because I had a lot of pain inside me and 
I needed to ease the pain. That's how an artist eases the pain, 
by creating art. And I'm an artist. I wish you would be more 
supportive, Father. Creating art about the Holocaust is difficult 
enough. I really don't need to be told I'm doing the wrong thing. 
What I need from you is your emotional support. 



158 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

AVI 

(Shaking his head from side to side) 
If I didn't tell you, Judith, nobody would. I want what's best for 
you. I love you, Judith. You are the only one I have left. 

AVI fades away. 

BOB reappears. He is invisible 
except to JUDITH and to the 
theater audience. 

BOB 

I hate to see you so depressed, Judith. Creating art about the 
Holocaust is no way to get over your depression. You need to 
work on happier subjects, the way you used to. I just loved those 
landscapes you used to do, and your tree paintings and the flowers. 
(BOB takes JUDITH in his arms.) You know I was in the Air 
Force during the war. I was in Europe. And I saw some of the Nazi 
concentration camps after they were liberated. And I still remember 
some of those awful sights of emaciated, starving human beings, not 
to speak of the piles of corpses and the stench. But I try not to dwell 
on it. It's too painful to contemplate that human beings can behave 
that way toward other human beings. So I drown the memories in 
my music. Music makes me think of man's better nature. You could 
do the same for yourself through your art. Art should be uplifting, 
both to the artist and to the public, not depressing. 

BOB 
Take care, my darling, 
Take care of yourself, 
Of your soul 
That I've known 
So well, 
So well. 

Take care of your spirit, 
Always so restless. 

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LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIS r 



Make sure 
It can find 
Some peace, 
Some peace. 

Take care of your heart 

So full of love. 

Don't let 

People hurt it. 

Beware! 

Beware! 

Take care of your longing 

For joy 

And contentment. 

Don't let your longing 

Be crushed, 

Be crushed. 

Take care, my darling, 
Take care of yourself, 
Of your soul 
That I love 
So well, 
So well. 



BOB fades away. 

JUDITH is standing alone at the 
exhibition while the guests are 
engaged in animated conversation 
among themselves. JUDITH'S 
brother, SAUL, appears. He is 
invisible except to JUDITH and to 
the theater audience. He is dressed 
in a khaki Israeli army uniform. 
He is twenty-one years old, and 



160 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

although he was JUDITH'S 
older brother, he is now much 
younger than JUDITH. JUDITH 
is surprised to see him since he 
was killed in the Israeli War of 
Independence back in 1948. 

JUDITH 

Saul! Is that really you or am I imagining things? 

SAUL 

(Embracing JUDITH.) 
I'm really here, Judith. I've come to comfort you because you seem 
to be so sad, always sad, and I want you to be happy, the way you 
were when we were kids together. 

JUDITH 

That was such a very long time ago. . . 

SAUL 

Remember how we used to spend our summers swimming in the 
balmy blue waters of the Mediterranean? Remember how we used 
to sprawl on the sand and take in the view of our beautiful city 
of Haifa, with Mount Carmel rising so majestically against the 
pale blue sky? Not a care in the world. Just you and I and all that 
splendor. 

JUDITH 

Yes, I remember. And I remember when we spent the summer on 
holiday in Venice, and you missed the boat back to our hotel and I 
was sure I had lost you and then you showed up at the hotel after 
all. And I was so happy that I had not lost you. 

SAUL 

Yes, I remember. But it was no big deal. Maybe to you it seemed to 
be because you were only six. I just got on the next boat, that's all. 
I was already seven so I managed. 

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LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

JUDITH 

Even our nanny was worried. 

SAUL 

You're kidding! 

JUDITH 

And I remember when you spent a couple of years in Beirut 
attending the American University there and how I missed you and 
couldn't wait for you to come back to Haifa. And the world war 
was on and I was worried about you. The Nazis were getting closer. 
They were already in Greece. And you didn't even write to me. . . 

SAUL 

I know. I'm really sorry. I didn't want to think about being away 
from home. I figured if I didn't write, I wouldn't have to think 
about it. 

JUDITH 

And you didn't write when you were studying law in London, 
either, back in 1948. 1 was in America then, going to college. The 
U. N. had adopted the Partition Decision about Palestine and the 
war broke out over the establishment of Israel and. . . 

SAUL 

I know. Again, I thought not writing would help me forget. 

JUDITH 

And then you wrote me a letter from London. It was the only letter 
from London that I got from you. And you told me you decided 
to volunteer and go back to Israel to fight. You didn't have to go. 
You were exempt from military duty because you were a student. I 
called you as soon as I got your letter. It took half the night to reach 
your number. I told you that I wanted to go back with you, so I 
could fight, too. And you told me. . . 



162 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

SAUL 

Yes, I remember that phone call. And I told you not to go back. I 
told you to stay in America and finish your studies, just like Father 
wanted you to, so that in the end you could return to Israel and 
make a great contribution to our people. 

JUDITH 

I was too choked up to answer you. And then when you went back 
and got killed, I wished even more that I had gone back with you. 

SAUL 

It's a good thing you didn't go back then. Too many of our boys and 
girls were killed fighting for Israel's independence. Think about 
all you would have missed if you had gone back and been killed. 
(SAUL points to the artworks on the walls.) Think about all you've 
accomplished by surviving. Look at all the art you've created! 

JUDITH 

Father never approved of what I've been doing. He couldn't accept 
the fact that I decided to become an artist and live in America. 

SAUL 

I know, but you have to follow your heart, Judith, just as I did. 

JUDITH 

(Bursting into tears) 
My life has not been the same since I lost you, Saul. For years I 
was so heartbroken that I didn't want to go on living. And then I 
discovered art, and it gave me a reason to live. Somehow every 
artwork, every single artwork I've ever created was linked to the 
fact that I lost you. It's as if in creating my art I've been acting for 
both of us and making up in some small measure for your death. 

SAUL 

Thank you, Judith. I will always be with you. 



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LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

SAUL takes JUDITH in his arms. 
He kisses her on the forehead and 
fades away. 

While JUDITH is alone and the 
museum guests are busy chatting 
among themselves and indulging 
in the food and drinks, ANNE 
reappears, as before, invisible to 
all but JUDITH and the theater 
audience. For a long moment 
ANNE studies the artworks 
displayed along the walls. 

ANNE 
(Turning to JUDITH) 
I was just a kid during the war. We were in hiding at my father's 
office building in Amsterdam, in the back part of the building. We 
called it the "Annex." Then, after we were caught, we were taken 
to Westerbork, which is also in Holland, and from there we were 
shipped to Auschwitz . Did you know that Auschwitz is all the way 
in Poland? And then we had to leave Auschwitz when the Russians 
were getting close and we were shipped to the Bergen-Belsen 
camp. That's in Germany. Actually, I was born in Germany, in a 
city called "Frankfurt," and Father moved the family to Holland 
after Hitler came to power because we were Jewish and Hitler 
hated Jews, and Father thought Holland would be safe for us. So 
isn't it ironic that I ended up in Germany? After all that traveling 
- from Germany to Holland and then to Poland - 1 ended up in 
Germany after all! It was there, at the Bergen-Belsen camp, that I 
became ill with Typhus. I was only fifteen when I died. 

JUDITH 

I read about your ordeal. . . 



164 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libret 



to 



ANNE. 
The worst part of it is that I never had a chance to accomplish 
anything. 

ANNE 
The worst part of dying 
When you're a teen 
Is not that you'd never 
Be more than you've been. 

It's not that you missed 
A long time on earth 
Or even those landmarks 
Of marriage and birth, 

But rather that you never 
Had any ehance 
To tell to mankind 
What you saw at a glance, 

What you felt in your heart, 
What you knew in your brain, 
That the world is sort of 
Like a long death-train 

That goes speeding on 
But misses its rails 
And falls off the track 
And havoc prevails 

And people get killed 

And a fierce fire burns 

And nobody knows 

What went wrong and one learns 

That it happened before 
And will happen again 



165 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 



And nobody stops 

That speeding death-train. 

The worst part of dying 
When you're a teen 
Is not that you'd never 
Be more than you've been. 

It's not that you missed 
A long time on earth 
Or even those landmarks 
Of marriage and birth, 

But rather that you never 
Had any chance 
To tell to mankind 
What you saw at a glance, 

What you felt in your heart, 
What you knew in your brain, 
That the world is sort of 
Like a long death-train. 



JUDITH 



But your diary. . . 



ANNE 
Actually, my diary was meant to be private, just something I felt I 
needed to do for myself, to express how I felt in that awful place, 
with all of us - my family and the van Daans and Dr. Pfeiffer - 
all crammed together and getting on one another's nerves. I just 
needed to have an escape, and of course physical escape was 
impossible because the Annex was so small and the Nazis were all 
around. 

JUDITH 

I understand. Self expression is a good way to escape... 



166 



ON BI--ING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ANNE 
Besides, I wanted to become a writer, and I thought that keeping a 
diary would give me some practice. 

JUDITH 

You would have made a great writer, I'm sure of it. Actually, you 
were a wonderful writer even as a teen. I read your diary a while 
back but I still remember it vividly. I couldn't put it down, it was so 
gripping. 

ANNE 
Did you like to write when you were young? 

JUDITH 

I did, but I didn't keep a diary. 

ANNE 
My diary really wasn't meant to be read by anyone. It's just that I 
left it behind in the Annex when we were caught, and Mies found 
it after we were taken and she kept the diary all through the rest of 
the war and then she gave it to Father when he returned from the 
camps to Amsterdam after the war. You know, he was the only one 
of us who survived the war. 

JUDITH 

I know. . . 

ANNE 
The Van Daans and Dr. Pfeiffer. . . 

JUDITH 

I heard. . . 

ANNE 
Mother and Margot, my sister, also died. But at first Father didn't 
know it. He was hoping Mother and Margot and I had survived. So 
he returned to Amsterdam after the war and waited for us to come 



167 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

back. But of course we couldn't because we were all dead. So then 
Mies, who kept us alive all during our hiding by bringing us food 
and risking her own life doing that, Mies gave Father my diary. I 
told you, Mies was the one who found my diary in the Annex after 
we were taken away. And Father read it - something I know he 
wouldn't have done if he thought there was any chance that I would 
come back. 

JUDITH 

Your father was a very proper man, like mine. 

ANNE 
He was. And when he read my diary he decided to publish it. You 
know how fathers are, always eager to show the world what great 
kids they have. . . 

JUDITH 

Yes, my father was proud of me, too, until. . . Actually, it's a 
wonderful thing your father did, publishing your diary. The diary 
was translated into many languages and people all over the world 
were able to read it and it helped them understand what happened 
under Nazi occupation. . . 

ANNE 
It was awful to be so confined and not even be allowed to make a 
sound or turn the lights on or even the water because someone on 
the outside might notice something and tell the authorities. But it 
was even worse after we were caught. If I had my diary with me 
when we were taken away, maybe I could have written about what 
it was like in the camps. But of course I couldn't because I left the 
diary in the Annex. 

JUDITH 

I've read about some of what happened to you in the camps. People 
who saw you there and managed to survive told the story. I'm so 
sorry. . . 



168 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ANNE 
You shouldn't be sorry. It wasn't your fault. 

JUDITH 

It makes me feel guilty that I survived the war and you didn't. Did 
you ever hear of "survivor's guilt"? 

ANNE 
No. What is it? 

JUDITH 

I think the concept may be relatively new, but the phenomenon 
must be as old as mankind. It means we feel guilty that we are still 
alive when someone close to us dies. 

ANNE 
You really shouldn't feel guilty when you have done nothing 
wrong. 

ANNE 
Guilt and innocence 
Are not the same. 
The Nazis confused these 
And then they would blame 

Those doing no wrong, 
Who only were there 
Because one of their forebears 
Was an old Jew somewhere. 

Guilt and innocence 
Are sometimes confused, 
And the outcome is people 
Getting accused 

Of thoughts they've never 
Entertained 



169 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

And deeds from which 
They've always refrained. 

To be guilty one has 
To do something wrong 
Like hurt someone else 
To show off one is strong. 

Remember the lesson 
Old Hillel once taught: 
Treat others as you would 
Be treated (and not 

As if they were strangers); 
They're just like you, 
Human beings deserving 
Only kindness, too. 

JUDITH 

Maybe one of the reasons I feel guilty is that you and I were born 
the same year and just because your father decided to stay in 
Europe and mine emigrated to Israel - actually, it was then called 
"Palestine" - we had such a different fate. While you died, I live. 

ANNE 
How fickle fate is! Don't you agree? So much depends on so little! 
A split second decision and the fate of human beings is sealed. 



Yes. 



I never had a chance. 



JUDITH 



ANNE 



JUDITH 

But you've made a priceless contribution to world understanding 
through your diary. 



170 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

ANNE 
And now you have tried through your art to make sure I'm not 
forgotten!? 

JUDITH 

You don't need my help. You will never be forgotten. 

ANNE 
So why have you created art about me? And so much of it! It must 
have taken years out of your life! 

JUDITH 

It did. But I felt compelled to do it. 

ANNE 
But why? 

JUDITH 

I'm not sure. I've been trying to figure it out myself. It has 
something to do with the fact that I lost my only sibling, my 
brother, Saul. He was just a year older than me. We were very 
close. And then, in 1948, while he was studying law in London 
and, as a student, was exempt from military service, he volunteered 
to return to Israel and fight in the Israeli War of Independence. 
Maybe you didn't hear about it, but Israel, which had just declared 
itself to be an independent state - about two thousand years after it 
was destroyed by the Romans - was attacked by its Arab neighbors. 
My brother was killed on the Egyptian front, near Gaza. He was 
only twenty-one years old when he was killed. 

ANNE 
How sad! So it seems your father's decision to emigrate from 
Europe to Israel didn't spare you from war. 

JUDITH 

I guess not. But at least we in Israel had the opportunity to fight 
back and defend ourselves. 



171 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 
ANNE 

We didn't. We were led like sheep to the slaughter. 

ANNE 
Like sheep to the slaughter 
The victims all went, 
Men, women and children 
In neat lines were sent 

To places where they would 
Be made to undress 
And dig their own graves 
And be shot there unless 

They died on the road 
As they walked all those miles, 
Men, women and children 
In those long neat files. 

Why did our people 
Not struggle and fight? 
Why so obedient 
To power and might? 

Why did our brethren 
Just simply obey 
Those beastly commands 
And then become prey? 

Was it blindness to evil 
Though they saw it quite bare? 
Was it faith that God knew 
And would hasten to spare 

His very own people, 
Who all their lives prayed 



172 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

And kept faith and loved Him 
And Him always obeyed? 



Like sheep to the slaughter 
The victims all went, 
Men, women and children 
In huge numbers were sent 

To camps where they would 
Be made to undress 
And enter gas chambers 
And be killed there unless 

They died even before 
They got to be gassed 
Of starvation, brutality 
And all else that passed. 



Why did our people 
Not struggle and fight? 
Why so obedient 
To power and might? 

Why did our brethren 
Just simply obey 
Those beastly commands 
And then become prey? 

Was it blindness to evil 
Though they saw it quite bare? 
Was it faith that God knew 
And would hasten to spare 

His very own people, 
Who all their lives prayed 
And kept faith and loved Him 
And Him never betrayed? 



173 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

When our loved ones 
Were burned 
In huge ovens 
Out there 

And through tall 
Stacks of smoke 
They turned 
Right into air, 

When our families 
Became nothing 
But ashes 
And smoke, 

Did God think 
That it was 
No more 
Than a joke? 

Why? 

JUDITH 

Somehow, creating art helped to ease my pain. That was especially 
true when I began creating art about the Holocaust. You'd think 
that creating art about the Holocaust would have plunged me into 
an even deeper depression than I was already in due to Saul's 
death. But somehow, dealing with all that human suffering had the 
opposite effect. It gave me some relief. 

ANNE 
Maybe you felt you were doing something meaningful with your 
art, saying something important about the human condition. 

JUDITH 

Maybe that was it. I created many works about the Holocaust. I 
painted scenes expressing the horror of it all, the way people were 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

dehumanized. I could imagine myself there, in Europe, among the 
masses of people being herded onto cattle cars on their way to the 
camps. I worked day and night, creating one artwork after another, 
always searching for an image that would relieve me of the pain I 
felt over Saul's death. 

ANNE 
And did you find that image? 

JUDITH 

Somehow, when I began creating artworks about you, I felt more 
at peace, like I had finally found an image that expressed what was 
deep in my heart. So I created works using your face as the central 
image of my art. Fm not sure I can explain it. It's something that I 
felt driven to do. 

ANNE 
I can see you've done a lot of pictures about me. 

JUDITH 

Maybe it's because you and I were the same age and when I saw 
your photographs, I thought you looked a lot the way I did. Sort of 
like we were... 



Sisters? 



Yes, sisters. 



Twin sisters? 



Yes, twins. 



ANNE 



JUDITH 



ANNE 



JUDITH 



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LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

ANNE 
Maybe that explains all these pictures you painted showing your 
face merged with mine, half yours and half mine, seamlessly 
joined, as if we were one. 

JUDITH 

That makes sense. I felt we were one. . . 

ANNE 
So when you lost a brother, you gained a sister. . . 

JUDITH 

Maybe that's it. 

ANNE 
What else could it be? 

JUDITH 

I don't really know. Maybe I felt guilty about surviving my brother, 
too, and then, by merging myself with you... 

ANNE 
You could join the dead and be relieved of your survivor's guilt. 

ANNE walks up to JUDITH and 
embraces her, then fades away. 
JUDITH bursts into tears. 

RACHEL rejoins JUDITH. 

VINCENT suddenly appears in the 
gallery. He is invisible to all but 
JUDITH, RACHEL and the theater 
audience. JUDITH wipes away her 
tears. 



176 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RACHEL 

(To VINCENT) 
I think I've seen you before. Aren't you a famous artist? I think I 
saw your picture in a book at Grandma's house. 

VINCENT 

(Extending his hand to RACHEL) 
I am Vincent. And what is your name, young lady? 

RACHEL 

(Extending her hand and shaking VINCENT'S hand) 
My name is "Rachel." (Pointing to JUDITH.) This is my grandma. 
(Pointing to the artworks.) She did all these pictures. 

VINCENT 

Isn't it wonderful that your grandmother is an artist? 

RACHEL 

I guess so. 

VINCENT 

How would you like to go through the exhibition with me? You 
know, Anne Frank, the girl in all the pictures, was my compatriot. 
She was from Holland, like me. Maybe we can look at all the 
pictures together and discuss them. 

RACHEL 

(Hesitates) 
Okay. 

VINCENT reaches for RACHELS 
hand and she places her hand 
in his. They walk slowly hand 
in hand along the walls of the 
gallery, stopping at each artwork 
and discussing it. When they have 
completed their tour, RACHEL 



177 



LIBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIST 

hops over to the buffet table while 
VINCENT walks over to JUDITH. 
He takes JUDIITH in his arms. She 
doesn't resist. 

VINCENT 

Now that I've seen your work again, I am more convinced than 
ever that we are soul mates. Please let me stay with you and I will 
support you in what you do. 

Before JUDITH has a chance to 
respond, VINCENT fades away. 

RACHEL rejoins JUDITH. 

RACHEL 

(Looking around.) 
Where did Vincent go? 

JUDITH 

I really don't know 

RACHEL 

He loved your pictures. He said you're a great artist. He said I'm 
lucky to have a grandmother who's such a great artist. 



That's nice to hear. 



I bet he'll be back. 



I hope so. 



JUDITH 



RACHEL 

(Looking around.) 



JUDITH 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

RACHEL 

(Hugging JUDITH.) 
I love you, Grandma. 

JUDITH 

(Hugging RACHEL) 
I love you, too, Rachel. 

RACHEL 
What are grandmas for 
If a grandkid like me 
They do not ignore? 

When moms are working 
Or busy with chores 
And dads are away 
While fighting some wars 

And children are left 
By themselves all alone 
With no-one to be with 
As if they were grown, 

They turn to their grandmas 
And what do they find? 
A welcoming grandma 
Who despite her grind 

Of painting and painting 
And painting some more 
Makes time for her grandkid 
And never keeps score. 

Aren't grandmas just great 
When art they create 
That people take note of 
And never berate? 



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..IBRETTO for TO BE AN ARTIS"! 



And even old Vincent 
Has come to behold 
What my very own grandma 
Has through her art told. 



What are grandmas for 
If a grandkid like me 
They do not ignore? 



JUDITH embraces RACHEL. 

The museum gallery is still full 
of guests, chatting, eating and 
drinking. If one of them comes 
over now and asks her why she has 
created all these artworks about 
Anne Frank, will JUDITH finally 
be able to explain? 

A guest approaches JUDITH... 



CURTAIN 



180 



LYRICS 

for 

TO BE AN ARTIST 

A Musical Play in Two Acts 



181 



CHARACTERS 



JUDITH 



RACHEL 



VINCENT (ghost) 
ANNE (ghost) 
BOB (ghost) 
AVI (ghost) 
SAUL (ghost) 
MUSEUM GUESTS 



an elderly artist 

a teenager, Judith's granddaughter 

the ghost of artist Vincent van Gogh 

a teenager, the ghost of Anne Frank 

the ghost of Judith's husband 

the ghost of Judith's father 

the ghost of Judith's brother 



miscellaneous 



PLACE AND TIME 

ACT ONE: An art studio in a house in a suburb in the U.S A. in 
the 1990s. 

ACT TWO: A gallery in a museum in the U.S A. later in the 
1990s. 



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ON BEING AM ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



LIST OF SONGS 



ACT ONE 

1. WHAT ARE GRANDMAS FOR? (RACHEL) 

2. HOW STRANGE IS FATE (JUDITH) 

3. ARTISTS DON'T DIE (VINCENT) 

4. SOLITUDE (JUDITH) 

5. MAN AND WOMAN (VINCENT) 

6. COLOR IN OUR WORLD (VINCENT) 

7. GETTING ALONG (VINCENT) 

8. WHAT IS AN ARTIST? (JUDITH) 

9. FLOWERS (VINCENT) 

10. THE PURPOSE OF ART (VINCENT) 

11. SOUL MATE (JUDITH) 

12. RED, GRAY AND BLACK (JUDITH) 

13. WHEN AN ARTIST FALLS IN LOVE (VINCENT) 



ACT TWO 

14. WHO NEEDS ART? (AVI) 

15. EASILY SHAKEN (JUDITH) 

16. TAKE CARE, MY DARLING (BOB) 

17. DYING YOUNG (ANNE) 

18. GUILT AND INNOCENCE (ANNE) 

19. LIKE SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER (ANNE) 

20. MY GRANDMA'S AN ARTIST (RACHEL) 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

1. WHAT ARE GRANDMAS FOR? 

RACHEL SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



What are grandmas for 
If grand kids like me 
They choose to ignore? 



When moms are working 
Or busy with chores 
And dads are away 
While fighting some wars 

And children are left 
By themselves all alone 
With no-one to be with 
As if they were grown, 

They turn to their grandmas 
And what do they find? 
A grandma too busy 
With her own daily grind 

Of painting and painting 
And painting some more. 
What does the world need 
All those pictures for? 

Aren't grandmas supposed 
To heed grandkids' calls? 
Aren't kids more important 
Than pictures on walls? 



What are grandmas for 
If grandkids like me 
They choose to ignore? 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

2. HOW STRANGE IS FATE 

JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 
Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 

When I was a child, 
Could I ever know 
That some day my fate 
Would lead me to go 

To a land of enchantment, 
Of color and form 
And expression of feelings 
In the midst of a storm? 

How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 
Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 

Was it a postcard 
That sealed in my fate? 
A glimpse of bright color 
That made me create 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



All that I've done 
And all I still do 
To tell this world 
What is deeply true? 



How strange 
Is fate! 
How odd 
Are its plays! 
Unfathomable, 
Unforeseeable, 
Unpredictable 
Its ways. 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

3. ARTISTS DON'T DIE 

VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



Artists don't die. 
Through their works 
They live on. 

They speak to mankind 
Long after 
They're gone. 



Sometimes they speak louder 
As time 
Passes by. 

Sometimes what they said 
Makes more sense 
If they die, 

But artists live on, 
Unlike all those 
Plain folk 

Who go through 
Their lives simply 
Carrying the yoke 

Of subsistence, existence, 

Resistance 

And more 

And spend all their time 

Unaware 

What's in store 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



And never leave 

Anything 

After they're gone 

Except for sad memories 
Of a life 
That was born 

And maybe possessions 
That don't mean 
A thing 

As compared to the glory 
That true art 
Will bring. 



Artists don't die. 
Through their works 
They live on. 

They speak to mankind 
Long after 
They're gone. 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

4. SOLITUDE 

JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



To be all alone 

Is a marvelous thing, 

With my brain 

And my heart 

And the message they bring. 

And no interruption, 
No voice from outside. 
My own thoughts 
And feelings 
Then solely me guide 

On the road to creation, 

That street without bars, 

That magical 

Pathway 

That leads to the stars. 

I'm content all alone 
Plugged into my dreams 
And my thoughts 
And my feelings. 
I have no use for teams. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

5. MAN AND WOMAN 
VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



When God fashioned Eve 
Good old Adam was there 

For it says in the Bible 
Adam's rib was where 

Eve's form first appeared 
In the Great Sculptor's mind 

And woman was formed 
So God could bind 

Man and woman together 
Forever through time 

And make their union 
Truly sublime. 



Which means man and woman 
Cannot live apart. 

They were one flesh, one spirit 
Right from the start. 



It follows that woman 
Cannot alone be. 

She needs man beside her 
To render her free 

Of daily concerns, 
Deep fears and distress 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



And all of life's dangers 
That on her might press. 



Which means man and woman 
Cannot live apart. 

They were one flesh, one spirit 
Right from the start. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

6. COLOR IN OUR WORLD 

VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



Color in our world 

Is everything. 

Can you imagine a world 

Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 

Can you fathom a sky 
That is always dull gray, 
Never blue, never bright, 
Never happy and gay? 

Can you picture a mountain 
That's nothing but black, 
Never covered with trees, 
Never showing a track? 

Can you then see a valley 
With a stream running through 
And the valley's not green 
And the stream is not blue 

But gray everywhere 
Through the valley and then 
Through the stream and the mountain 
And the sky gray again? 

Color in our world 
Is everything. 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

Can you imagine a world 
Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 



Just imagine a beach scene 
With boats of great hue 
And the sand so yellow 
And the sea so blue, 

But then by some curse 
The whole scene becomes gray, 
The sea and the sand 
And the boats held at bay. 

But the worst thing of all, 
If no color we had, 
Would be flowers that bloom 
And yet look as if dead. 

Think of sunflowers glowing 
With their bright golden crown. 
Think of them now 
If in grayness they drown. 



Color in our world 

Is everything. 

Can you imagine a world 

Where sunrise would bring 

Only shadowy forms 
Of black and of white 
And of grays in between, 
Some darker, some light? 

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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

7. GETTING ALONG 

VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



I've always loved people, 
Men, women too, 
Whether old or young, 
And infants quite new. 

At one point I thought 
I'd serve mankind, then, 
By preaching and good works 
And sacrifice when 

In the coal mines of Belgium 
I lived without gain 
And breathed in their coal dust 
And suffered great pain 

And gave my possessions 
To those all around, 
My clothes, bed and food 
And whatever I found. 

I tendered my love. 
What more could I do? 
Yet no-one would have it. 
So then it is true 

That I left the coal mines 
And forever withdrew 
To forget all that pain 
That did clearly ensue. 

What is the way 
To avoid rejection 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

And be spared the pain 
Of others' objection? 

What is the secret 
To getting along? 
God knows I've tried 
But I'm doing it wrong. 

It was so I decided 
To try my hand 
At drawing and painting 
That would then me land 

In France, where I lived 
The rest of my days 
And drowned my pain 
In my art that was praise 

To God in Heaven, 
Who showed me the way 
To deal with my pain 
And not go astray. 

Yet with people I never 
Could find a way. 
They thought that my paintings 
Were nothing but play. 

Only Theo, my brother, 
Stood by my side. 
Praise be to brothers, 
Who by us abide. 

What is the way 
To avoid rejection 
And be spared the pain 
Of others' objection? 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

What is the secret 
To getting along? 
God knows I've tried 
But I'm doing it wrong. 



199 



YRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



8. WHAT IS AN ARTIST? 



JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 

What makes 
Some people 
Never content 

Unless they 

Create 

And even then 

They're not pleased 
Unless they do it 
Again and again? 

What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 



Is it a talent 
That others 
Just never 
Possessed? 

Is it a vision 
With which 
Plain folk 
Aren't blessed? 

Is it a knowledge 
Of what 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



No others 
Can see? 

Is it an insight 
Into what 
Life's mysteries 
Might be? 



What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 



Is it a skill 
One acquires 
Through hard work 
And toil? 

Or a practice 
One goes through 
While one burns 
Midnight oil? 

Is it learning 
Of steps 
To perform 
The job right? 

Or memorizing 
Some tasks 
So your art 
Attains height? 



What is the essence 
Of being 
An artist? 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



It's fire in the chest. 
It's shortness of breath. 
If we couldn't create 
We'd be wishing for death. 

It's love beyond love. 
It's faith beyond faith. 
If we couldn't create 
We'd be living a death. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

9. FLOWERS 

VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



When I was a boy 
In Holland 
And saw flowers 
In bloom everywhere, 

I would sit among them 
For hours 
And do little more 
Than just stare. 

I would ask myself 
Some questions 
As I stared 
At the flowers around, 

About God and man 
And Creation, 
And the purpose 
Of these I found. 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 

Do you know 

Why God 

Made them grow? 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 



203 



LYRICS for TO BE AN AR US' 



I will tell you 
So you'll 
Know. 

With the vast universe 
And this big noisy world, 
God created those treasures 
That nature unfurled, 

Those lovely small beings, 
That elegant fare, 
These fragrant bright gems 
That pop up everywhere: 

Roses, carnations, 
Calla lilies, too. 
Pansies and freesias 
And delphiniums blue 

And hyacinths and lilacs 
And others so bright 
That we wish we could see them 
Even at night. 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 

Do you know 

Why God 

Made them grow? 

What is 
The reason 
For flowers? 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

I will tell you 
So you'll 
Know. 



To gladden the heart 
Of an artist. 
To make us bless God 
For this life. 

To celebrate beauty 
And color 
And live ever more 
Without strife. 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

10. THE PURPOSE OF ART 

VINCENT SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



What is the purpose 
Of art? Can you tell? 

Why did God make 

You and me feel compelled 

To wake up each morning 
And welcome the day 

And through our efforts 
Then honestly say 

What we have on our mind 
And feel in our heart 

And do it again 

The next day and restart 

Again and again, 
Every day without end, 

And never to others 
Our vision we bend? 

Through our art 
We bless God, 
The Creator of all. 

Without God 
There'd be nothing, 
No art, no art's call. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Without God 

You and I 

Would not even be. 

Through our art 
We bless God, 
Both you and me. 



207 



LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



11. SOUL MATE 



JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



Let me tell you 
What I've known 
As an old widow 
Left alone. 

When you are old 
And your mate's gone, 
The saddest part 
When you're alone 

Is not that you 
Cannot now speak 
To your dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
Your silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No -one knows how. 



Your soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear your silence 
And would have known. 



I've lived way past 
My golden years. 
My heart is filled 
With silent tears. 

Now that I'm old 
And my mate's gone, 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



The saddest part 
When I'm alone 

Is not that I 
Cannot now speak 
To my dear mate 
When life is bleak 

But rather that 
My silence now 
No-one can hear, 
No -one knows how. 



My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 



Some day I'll join him 
Where we're free 
And once again 
We'll soul mates be. 

I will be quiet, 
Never speak, 
Though times become 
So very bleak. 

I will stay mum. 
My silence, though, 
My mate will hear 
And he will know. 



My soul mate's gone 
And he alone 
Could hear my silence 
And would have known. 

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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

12. RED, GRAY AND BLACK 

JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT ONE) 



What color was 
The Holocaust? 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 



First by red 
For blood 
And fire. 
Red for 
The blood 
Of innocents. 

Red for 

The fire 

That burned 

So many, 

Old and young, 

Behind a barbed fence. 



What color was 
The Holocaust? 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 



Gray. Gray 

For that 

State of being 

Between 

Life 

And death. 

Gray for 
The state 
Of despair, 
Of losing hope 
And losing faith 
And losing breath. 



What color was 
The Holocaust? 

How does an artist 
Express the pain 

Without words, 
Without sounds, 

Without an audible 
Refrain? 



Yes, black 
For the absence 
That prevailed. 
Black for 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN A.RTIS' 



The absence 
Of love. 

Black for 

The lack 

Of compassion, 

The lack 

Of God's mercy 

From above. 

Black for 
The darkness 
Of man's soul 
As human beings 
Were gassed 
And burned 

By fellow 
Human 
Beings 
And into 
Black smoke 
Were turned. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

13. WHEN AN ARTIST FALLS IN LOVE 

VINCENT SOLO 

(ACT ONE) 

When an artist 
Falls in love 
It's a blessing 
From above. 

It's a sign 
God does exist, 
Else mankind 
Would not persist 

In loving others, 
Yes, loving others, 
Always others, 
As themselves. 



When an artist 
Falls in love 
It's like manna 
From above. 

It's like breathing 
Pure fresh air. 
It's like feeling 
Barely there 



When we love others, 
Yes, love others, 
Always others, 
As ourselves. 



It's like seeing 
Brilliant light. 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



It's like music 
Through the night. 

It's like reaching 
For a star. 
It's having God 
Right where you are 



If we love others, 
Yes, love others, 
Always others, 
As ourselves. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

14. WHO NEEDS ART? 

AVI SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



Who needs art? 



In a world 
So burdened 
With war 
And with hunger 

And with sickness 
And misery 
That take away 
One's thunder, 



Who needs art? 



In a world 
Where nature 
Just adds to 
Man's grief 

And causes 
Destruction 
Beyond 
Belief, 



Who needs art? 



How can 
A canvas 
All covered 
With paint 



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,Y R ICS for TO BE AN A RT I S 



Resolve 

Man's problems? 
It makes me 
Faint 

To see 

My own child 
Can be so 
Naive 

As to think 
That art 
Can man's 
Woes relieve. 



Who needs art? 



In a world 
So burdened 
With war 
And with hunger 

And with sickness 
And misery 
That take away 
One's thunder, 



Who needs art? 



216 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

15. EASILY SHAKEN 

JUDITH SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



Why is an artist 
So easily shaken? 

Why does a gesture 
So deeply hurt? 

Why do mere words 
Sometimes feel like daggers? 

Why does a silence 
Seem rude and curt? 



Is it that artists 
Are eager to please 

Much more than people 
Who do things with ease? 

Is it that unlike 
Those others out there 

We have something serious 
We need to declare? 

Or is it because 

We artists have bound 

Our hearts, our lives 
To truths we found? 

With our souls in our art 
We therefore expose 



217 



LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTISI 

Our very being 
To all of those 

Who glance at our work 
And say something absurd 

Or silent remain 
And not say a word? 

Why is an artist 
So easily shaken? 

Why does a gesture 
So deeply hurt? 

Why do mere words 
Sometimes feel like daggers? 

Why does a silence 
Seem rude and curt? 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

16. TAKE CARE, MY DARLING 

BOB SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



Take care, my darling. 
Take care of yourself, 
Of your soul 
That I've known 
So well, 
So well. 

Take care of your spirit, 
Always so restless. 
Make sure 
It can find 
Some peace, 
Some peace. 

Take care of your heart, 

So full of love. 

Don't let 

People hurt it. 

Beware! 

Beware! 

Take care of your longing 

For joy 

And contentment. 

Don't let your longing 

Be crushed, 

Be crushed. 

Take care, my darling, 
Take care of yourself, 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 



Of your soul 
That I love 
So well, 
So well. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

17. DYING YOUNG 

ANNE SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



The worst part of dying 
When you're a teen 
Is not that you'd never 
Be more than you've been. 

It's not that you missed 
A long time on earth 
Or even those landmarks 
Of marriage and birth. 

But rather that you never 
Had any chance 
To tell to mankind 
What you saw at a glance, 

What you felt in your heart, 
What you knew in your brain, 
That the world is sort of 
Like a long death-train 

That goes speeding on 
But misses its rails 
And falls off the track 
And havoc prevails 

And people get killed 

And a fierce fire burns 

And nobody knows 

What went wrong and one learns 

That it happened before 
And will happen again 



221 



LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIS' 



And nobody stops 

That speeding death-train. 

The worst part of dying 
When you're a teen 
Is not that you'd never 
Be more than you've been. 

It's not that you missed 
A long time on earth, 
Or even those landmarks 
Of marriage and birth, 

But rather that you never 
Had any chance 
To tell to mankind 
What you saw at a glance, 

What you felt in your heart, 
What you knew in your brain, 
That the world is sort of 
Like a long death-train. 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 

18. GUILT AND INNOCENCE 

ANNE SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



Guilt and innocence 
Are not the same. 
The Nazis confused these 
And then they would blame 

Those doing no wrong, 
Who only were there 
Because one of their forebears 
Was an old Jew somewhere. 

Guilt and innocence 
Are sometimes confused, 
And the outcome is people 
Getting accused 

Of thoughts they've never 

Entertained 

And deeds from which 

They've always refrained. 

To be guilty one has 
To do something wrong 
Like hurt someone else 
To show off one is strong. 

Remember the lesson 
Old Hillel once taught: 
Treat others as you would 
Be treated (and not 



223 



LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIS' 



As if they were strangers); 
They're just like you, 
Human beings deserving 
Only kindness, too. 



224 



ON BEING AN ARTIST': Three Plays and a Libretto 

19. LIKE SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER 

ANNE SOLO 

(ACT TWO) 

Like sheep to the slaughter 
The victims all went. 
Men, women and children 
In neat lines were sent 

To places where they would 
Be made to undress 
And dig their own graves 
And be shot there unless 

They died on the road 
As they walked all those miles, 
Men, women and children 
In those long neat files. 

Why did our people 
Not struggle and fight? 
Why so obedient 
To power and might? 

Why did our brethren 
Just simply obey 
Those beastly commands 
And then become prey? 

Was it blindness to evil 
Though they saw it quite bare? 
Was it faith that God knew 
And would hasten to spare 

His very own people, 
Who all their lives prayed 



225 



LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

And kept faith and loved Him 
And Him always obeyed? 



Like sheep to the slaughter 
The victims all went. 
Men, women and children 
In huge numbers were sent 

To camps where they would 
Be made to undress 
And enter gas chambers 
And be killed there unless 

They died even before 
They got to be gassed, 
Of starvation, brutality 
And all else that passed. 



Why did our people 
Not struggle and fight? 
Why so obedient 
To power and might? 

Why did our brethren 
Just simply obey 
Those beastly commands 
And then become prey? 

Was it blindness to evil 
Though they saw it quite bare? 
Was it faith that God knew 
And would hasten to spare 

His very own people, 
Who all their lives prayed 
And kept faith and loved Him 
And Him never betrayed? 

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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



When our loved ones 
Were burned 
In huge ovens 
Out there 

And through tall 
Stacks of smoke 
They turned 
Right into air, 

When our families 
Became nothing 
But ashes 
And smoke, 

Did God think 
That it was 
No more 
Than a joke? 

Why? 



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LYRICS for TO BE AN ARTIST 

20. MY GRANDMA'S AN ARTIST 

RACHEL SOLO 



(ACT TWO) 



What are grandmas for 
If a grandkid like me 
They do not ignore? 



When moms are working 
Or busy with chores 
And dads are away 
While fighting some wars 

And children are left 
By themselves all alone 
With no-one to be with 
As if they were grown, 

They turn to their grandmas 
And what do they find? 
A welcoming grandma 
Who despite her grind 

Of painting and painting 
And painting some more 
Makes time for her grandkid 
And never keeps score. 

Aren't grandmas just great 
When art they create 
That people take note of 
And never berate? 

And even old Vincent 
Has come to behold 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



What my very own grandma 
Has through her art told. 



What are grandmas for 
If a grandkid like me 
They do not ignore? 



229 



PLATES 

SELECTED ARTWORKS 

created by 

JUDITH WEINSHALL LIBERMAN 



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ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



LIST OF PLATES 



1. SELF PORTRAIT AT THE EASEL 

2. SELF PORTRAIT AS AN ARTIST III 

3. SELF PORTRAIT AS AN ARTIST II 

4. HANDS UP 

5. BOARDING 

6. FENCED IN 

7. THE HAND 

8. ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE (detail) 

9. ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE 

10. ANNE FRANK'S AMSTERDAM 

11. BOXCAR 

12. ANNE FRANK'S JOURNEY 

13. WITNESS 

14. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #3B 

15. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #102 

16. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #139 

17. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #54 

18. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #56 

19. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #55 

20. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #99B 

21. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #99C 

22. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #10 

23. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #40 

24. SELF PORTRAIT OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #149 

25. SELF PORTRAIT AFTER AUSCHWITZ 



233 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




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1. 

TITLE: 

ARTIST: 

MEDIUM: 

SIZE: 

YEAR: 



SELF PORTRAIT AT THE EASEL 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 
34" x 18" 
1996 



COLLECTION: Private 



235 



•LATES 




2. 

TITLE: 

ARTIST: 

MEDIUM: 

SIZE: 

YEAR: 

COLLECTION: 



SELF PORTRAIT AS AN ARTIST III 

Judith Weinshall Liberman 

Oil painting on stretched canvas 

40" x 18" 

1967 

Private 



236 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




3. 

TITLE: 

ARTIST: 

MEDIUM: 

SIZE: 

YEAR: 



SELF PORTRAIT AS AN ARTIST II 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Oil painting on stretched canvas 
40" x 18" 
1970 



COLLECTION: Private 



237 



PLATES 




4. 

TITLE: HANDS UP 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Multi-media wall hanging 

SIZE: 46" x 97" 

YEAR: 1989 

COLLECTION: The Temple Museum of Religious Art, 

The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, 

Ohio, U.S.A. 



238 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 




5. 

TITLE: BOARDING 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 

SIZE: 30" x 40" 

YEAR: 1987 

COLLECTION: Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, 

Florida, U.S.A. 



239 



PLATES 




6. 

TITLE: FENCED IN 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Multi-media wall hanging 

SIZE: 48" x 137" 

YEAR: 1989 

COLLECTION: The Temple Museum of Religious Art, 

The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, 

Ohio, U.S.A. 



240 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 




7. 

TITLE: THE HAND 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 

SIZE: 30" x 40" 

YEAR: 1987 

COLLECTION: Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, 

Florida, U.S.A. 



241 






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8. 

TITLE: ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE (detail) 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 

(detail from the painting) 
SIZE: 30" x 40" 

YEAR: 1988 

COLLECTION: Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, 

Florida, U.S.A. 

242 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




9. 

TITLE: ANNE FRANK'S HIDING PLACE 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 

SIZE: 30" x40" 

YEAR: 1988 

COLLECTION: Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, 

Florida, U.S.A. 



243 



PLATES 




10. 

TITLE: ANNE FRANK'S AMSTERDAM 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Multi-media wall hanging 

SIZE: 83" x 114" 

YEAR: 1990 

COLLECTION: The Temple Museum of Religious Art, 

The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, 

Ohio, U.S.A. 



244 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




11. 

TITLE: BOX CAR 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Acrylic painting on stretched canvas 

SIZE: 30" x 40" 

YEAR: 1987 

COLLECTION: Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, 

Florida, U.S.A. 



245 



PLATES 




12. 

TITLE: ANNE FRANK'S JOURNEY 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Multi-media wall hanging 

SIZE: 81" x 127" 

YEAR: 1988 

COLLECTION: The Temple Museum of Religious Art, 

The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, 

Ohio, U.S.A. 



246 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 




13. 

TITLE: WITNESS 

ARTIST: Judith Weinshall Liberman 

MEDIUM: Multi-media wall hanging 

SIZE: 18"x26" 

YEAR: 1998 

COLLECTION: The Temple Museum of Religious Art, 

The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, 

Ohio, U.S.A. 



247 



PLATES 




14. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #3B 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



248 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




15. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #102 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
18" x 18" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



249 



PLATES 




16. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #139 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



250 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 



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17. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #54 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



251 







18. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #56 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 

252 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plavs and a Libretto 



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19. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #55 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



253 



PLATES 




20. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #99B 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
8" x 10" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



254 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




21. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #99C 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
8" x 10" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



255 



PLATES 




22. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #10 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
10" x 8" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 

256 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Plays and a Libretto 




23. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #40 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
8" x 10" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 

257 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



•LATES 




24. 
TITLE: 



SELF PORTRAIT 
OF A HOLOCAUST ARTIST #149 
Judith Weinshall Liberman 
Mixed media on stretched canvas 
8" x 10" 
1997 

COLLECTION: The William Benton Museum of Art, 

The University of Connecticut, Storrs, 
Connecticut, U.S.A. 

258 



ARTIST: 
MEDIUM: 
SIZE: 
YEAR: 



ON BEING AN ARTIST: Three Pfavs and a Libretl 




25. 

TITLE: 

ARTIST: 

MEDIUM: 

SIZE: 

YEAR: 



SELF PORTRAIT AFTER AUSCHWITZ 

Judith Weinshall Liberman 

Acrylic paint on carved linoleum 

9"x8 

1997 



v 



COLLECTION: Private 



259 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Born in Israel (then called "Palestine"), Judith Weinshall 
Liberman came to the United States in 1947 to pursue higher 
education after completing high school in her native city of Haifa. 
She earned four American university degrees, including a J.D. 
from the University of Chicago Law School and an LL.M. from 
the University of Michigan Law School. While teaching law in 
Israel in 1955, she wrote a textbook on public international law in 
Hebrew for use by her students. 

After settling in the Boston area in 1956, she studied art and 
creative writing. Her art studies were at various art schools in the 
Boston area, including the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 
the DeCordova Museum School and the Massachusetts College 
of Art. She completed all course work for the M.F.A. degree at 
Boston University School for the Arts and was certified as an 
art teacher. In the early 1960s, Ms. Liberman began creating her 
numerous series of artworks, using a wide variety of mediums, 
including oils, acrylics, graphics, mixed media, wall hangings, 
sculpture, ceramics and mosaics. She is primarily known for her 
artworks about the Holocaust. A book titled HOLOCAUST WALL 
HANGINGS about one of her three series on the Holocaust was 
published in 2002. Her art has been widely exhibited in one- 
person shows in museums and other public institutions in the 
United States and in Israel and is represented in important museum 
collections as well as in the collections of scores of other public 
institutions. 

Throughout her long career in visual art, Ms. Liberman took 
time out to write and had several books published. Her children's 
book, THE BIRD'S LAST SONG (Addison-Wesley, 1976), which 
she wrote and illustrated, won a citation as one of the fabulous 
books of the year. In 2007 she published her autobiography, MY 
LIFE INTO ART Her interest in playwriting dates back to her 
college days in the late 1940s, when she wrote her first play. In 
the years that followed, she studied playwriting and wrote several 

261 



plays. Ms. Liberman became a full-time playwright after she 
reached her eightieth birthday. Her play GOOD OLD ABRAHAM 
was performed by the Shades Repertory Theater under the 
direction of Samuel Harps at the historic Central Presbyterian 
Church in Haverstraw, New York, in the spring of 2010. Another 
one of her plays, EMPATHY, was used by Mr. Harps as the 
screenplay for a film. LOOKING BACK, her first book of plays, 
was published in 2010. The present volume contains three plays 
and one of the two musicals she has recently written. All four 
dramatic works deal with art as a creative process, a subject about 
which Judith Weinshall Liberman is eminently qualified to write. 

Ms. Liberman's archives can be found at the Smithsonian 
Archives of American Art and in the Special Collections 
Department of the Boston Public Library. 



262 



CPSIA information can be obtained at www ICGtesting.com 

Printed in the USA 

BVOW010717170212 

283136BV00002B/1/P 



781469 732251 



BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR 

The three plays and the libretto in this collection were all written by Judith 
Weinshall Liberman when she was in her eighties. All four dramatic works 
are semi-autobiographical and give expression to the insight the author gained 
through half a century of creating visual art and of writing. The first play, 
SOUL MATE, was inspired by Ms. Libermans collaboration with a gifted 
young composer on her own first musical play. Both VINCENT'S VISIT 
and JUDITH AND ANNE were inspired by the author s experience as a 
visual artist, especially by the years she devoted to creating her three series 
of artworks about the Holocaust. TO BE AN ARTIST integrates elements 
from VINCENT'S VISIT and JUDITH AND ANNE into a musical play in 
which the characters express themselves not only through frank dialogue but 
also in twenty lyrics which provide insight into their minds and hearts. Also 
included in the book are black-and-white reproductions of twenty-five of 
Judith Weinshall Libermans artworks. These reproductions are designed to 
help the reader better understand some of the matters discussed in the book. 



Born in Haifa, Israel (then called "Palestine"), Judith 
Weinshall Liberman came to the United States in 1947 to 
pursue higher education. She earned four American university 
degrees, including a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law 
School and an LL.M. from the University of Michigan Law 
School. After settling in the Boston area in 1956, she studied 
art and creative writing. She spent most of her adult life 
creating visual art and is best known for her three series about 
the Holocaust. Her artwork has been exhibited in numerous 
one-person museum exhibitions and is in the collection of 
museums and other public institutions. Despite her devotion 
to creating visual art, she did, over the years, take time out to 
write and had five books published. She wrote her first play 
while in college in the late 1940s. During the ensuing decades, other plays followed. 
LOOKING BACK, a book containing four of her plays, was published in 2010. 
ON BEING AN ARTIST is the authors second published collection of plays and 
the first to include the libretto for one of her musicals. Ms. Libermans archives can 
be found at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and in the Special Collections 
Department of the Boston Public Library. Having spent half a century writing and 
creating visual art, Judith Weinshall Liberman is eminendy qualified to offer insight 
into the meaning of being an artist. 

U.S. $20.95 
ISBN 17A-l-Mfc,^7-3225-l 




yj> iUniverse 8 

www.iuniverse.com 



9 781469"732251 



52095 





I 



50 




W^ 













BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR 

The three plays and the libretto in this collection were all written by Judith 
Weinshall Liberman when she was in her eighties. All four dramatic works 
are semi-autobiographical and give expression to the insight the author gained 
through half a century of creating visual art and of writing. The first play, 
SOUL MATE, was inspired by Ms. Libermans collaboration with a gifted 
young composer on her own first musical play. Both VINCENT'S VISIT 
and JUDITH AND ANNE were inspired by the authors experience as a 
visual artist, especially by the years she devoted to creating her three series 
of artworks about the Holocaust. TO BE AN ARTIST integrates elements 
from VINCENT'S VISIT and JUDITH AND ANNE into a musical play in 
which the characters express themselves not only through frank dialogue but 
also in twenty lyrics which provide insight into their minds and hearts. Also 
included in the book are black-and-white reproductions of twenty-five of 
Judith Weinshall Libermans artworks. These reproductions are designed to 
help the reader better understand some of the matters discussed in the book. 



Born in Haifa, Israel (then called "Palestine"), Judith 
Weinshall Liberman came to the United States in 1947 to 
pursue higher education. She earned four American university 
degrees, including a J. D. from the University of Chicago Law 
School and an LL.M. from the University of Michigan Law 
School. After settling in the Boston area in 1956, she studied 
art and creative writing. She spent most of her adult life 
creating visual art and is best known for her three series about 
the Holocaust. Her artwork has been exhibited in numerous 
one-person museum exhibitions and is in the collection of 
museums and other public institutions. Despite her devotion 
to creating visual art, she did, over the years, take time out to 
write and had five books published. She wrote her first play 
while in college in the late 1940s. During the ensuing decades, other plays followed. 
LOOKING BACK, a book containing four of her plays, was published in 2010. 
ON BEING AN ARTIST is the authors second published collection of plays and 
the first to include the libretto for one of her musicals. Ms. Libermans archives can 
be found at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and in the Special Collections 
Department of the Boston Public Library. Having spent half a century writing and 
creating visual art, Judith Weinshall Liberman is eminently qualified to offer insight 
into the meaning of being an artist. 

U.S. $20.95 

isbn 1711-1-14^7-3225-1 

52095 




sj> 'Universe' 

www.iuniverse.com 



9 781469V32251